Be home before dark


Kids under 16 not allowed on public streets after 9 p.m.


July 17, 2009
WAKEFIELD — Police are reminding the public that youngsters under 16 years old are not allowed on public streets after 9 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday evening, and after 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Just last week, police escorted several youngsters home after curfew and reminded the parents that it was in effect.

Wakefield Police Lt. Mark O'Brien said the curfew was first enacted in 1977 after it was adopted at the Town Meeting. In 1981, said O'Brien, the City of Keene filed a federal lawsuit claiming that curfews were illegal and towns stopped enforcing it. However, in 1982 the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the earlier ruling, paving the way for the town to enforce an amended curfew that was also passed at town meeting.

"It's for their safety," said O'Brien, adding that the town parks and town beaches all close at dusk and that its dangerous for youngsters to be out walking town roads side streets when its pitch black, not to mention the danger they could be faced with by strangers and such.

He said the town does experience vandalism and underage drinking, adding that police are launching "party patrols" to crack down on underage drinking parties or unlawful sales of alcohol to minors.

"It's for the safety of the kids too; they should not be out walking around when nothing is open. 11 p.m. is pretty late," he added.

He said the officers who encounter the kids bring them home and advise the parents of the curfew. The second time around, the parents can be charged with a misdemeanor, or a juvenile petition can be filed.

Funds to enforce laws against underage drinking have come from a grant through the United Way, and another from the state Attorney General's office.

During the "party patrols," an officer will hang out at stores and look out for illegal sales, check in with owners, and patrol of underage drinking parties.

"If you have a party at your house (with underage drinking) you will be charged with facilitating the party," he said.

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