The city of Richmond is beginning to take steps to put a halt on juvenile vandalism by considering a curfew. The age range for the curfew would be set by the commission if it should enact such an ordinance.

“We have seen a number of cases where juveniles (under age 18) who were out on the streets in the wee hours of the morning have been involved in criminal acts, to include burglaries, thefts and criminal mischief,” said Richmond Police Chief Larry Brock.

How it would be enforced would depend on the way the ordinance is written, Brock said.

“What authority is given to the police and what liability is assigned to the parents or guardians of the juveniles (in the ordinance) would probably dictate how it would be enforced,” he said.

The city’s last curfew ordinance was passed in 1968 and children 16 year old and younger were to be off the streets by 10 p.m. That ordinance has since been pulled, and the new ordinance may have a slight later deadline, perhaps 11 p.m., according to Richmond Mayor Connie Lawson.

Acts of vandalism this summer have been connected to juveniles, including a string of burglaries and break-ins.

T. Bombadil’s bar located at 131 First St. was burglarized July 14, according to Sgt. Willard Reardon, public affairs officer for the Richmond Police Department.

This was the second such break-in at the establishment in recent months. On May 27, the bar was broken into and a computer stolen from the premises. During the most recent heist, the thieves had stolen a “number of bottles of liquor” before leaving the scene, Reardon said. A detailed description of two suspects in the T. Bombadil’s burglary was obtained by officers investigating the case and circulated throughout the police department.

A 16-year-old male and a 13-year-old male were identified as the suspects in the July break-in at the bar. During detainment at the police department, the investigation revealed that the 13-year-old in question also had taken part in the first burglary of T. Bombadil’s in May with three other juveniles.

Two more teenagers, ages 12 and 13, were then detained, interviewed and arrested shortly thereafter, and all four juveniles were charged with burglary in the third degree.

Richmond police soon discovered that this same group of young teenagers were responsible for several break-ins at another downtown business, Tri-County Fertilizer, Reardon said.

The business, located at 429 Elm St., experienced several break-ins over a one-week period in early June, Reardon said. These burglaries resulted in approximately $48,000 in damage to equipment and supplies, mostly through acts of vandalism and criminal mischief, Reardon said.

Lawson is concerned that the amount of juvenile mischief may interfere with city police officers’ duties to focus on other illegal activity within the city.

“My thought is that if we can get the young mischief off the streets, then possibly we can concentrate on the more serious crimes,” Lawson said. “It seems like we’re going to have to do something because I hate to see our neighborhoods be vandalized.”

Berea City Council passed a juvenile curfew ordinance in February, and Capt. Ken Clark, public relations officer for the Berea Police Department, said he already can see a difference.

“Last summer, we had a lot of problems with juveniles in the western Berea neighborhoods,” Clark said.

Five verbal warnings have been issued in Berea this year, he said.

“When school starts back, a lot of that takes care of itself,” Clark said. “But it didn’t seem like this (summer) we had near the problems we had before we put the curfew ordinance in place.”

According to Berea’s curfew ordinance passed in February, youths are prohibited from being in public from the hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights, and 1 to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. Exceptions to the rule include youths who are in the company of a parent, guardian, legally authorized adult, in public within one hour of leaving a school or church function or their workplace.

The law requires police to employ a tiered approach to enforce the curfew. Upon the first violation, the youth will be sent or taken home by an officer, and the violator’s parent or legal guardian will be provided with a copy of the ordinance and a written warning.

If a second violation occurs, the parent or guardian of said youth will be fined $100. If a third violation occurs, the parent or guardian will be summoned to Madison District Court and subject to a fine of up to $500 and/or jail time of up to six months.

“My belief is that it would act as a deterrent to juvenile crime,” Brock said. “I can say from our contacts with juveniles on the streets in the wee hours of the morning that, generally, nothing positive is going on.” 



Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 234.

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