Indiana has a curfew law, and the Brazil City Police Department wants to remind parents they will enforce it.
"School's out, and our officers will be taking that into consideration while on patrol," Police Chief Terry Harrison told The Brazil Times. "A lot of kids are out walking around at night, doing nothing wrong. We know that only a few of those are spoiling it for the rest, but we have to enforce the law for the safety of everyone."
One problem for officers, Harrison said, is that juveniles automatically think they are in trouble and run away when an officer attempts to stop and talk to them.
"The officer is most likely going to remind a kid what time it is so they can go home," Harrison said. "Why run if you're not doing anything wrong? Then, if they run, officers have to investigate, which means they have to catch the kid or kids for questioning. It can be a waste of resources and someone could get hurt, which could all be avoided if they just didn't run."
Embroiled in legal battles for years, the Indiana General Assembly has continued to uphold the state's curfew law, revising it periodically to make sure it is constitutional. Although it establishes times when juveniles are not allowed in public places, it is up to the law enforcement agencies of local city governments, municipalities and towns to enforce the curfew.
A parent whose child is caught out past curfew will be notified by either receiving a phone call informing them to pick up their child at the police station or in person when an officer brings a child home.
According to Harrison, this is the saddest part of enforcing curfew for officers because some parents haven't seen and/or don't have a clue where their child has been all day.
"Sometimes the parents just don't care," Harrison said.
Punishment for curfew violation could mean an appearance in juvenile court for allegations of delinquency against the child.
While some parents believe they should be able to set their own curfews, law enforcement officers believe it is a safety issue that could potentially save lives.
"Burglaries, drug dealings and drunk driving are known to occur in larger numbers during this time of night. A kid could stumble into anything while walking around out there," Harrison said. "No one wants their child to come across someone in the night that could do them harm, or worse. Enforcing curfew is important for the safety of our children."
Indiana curfew law
Contrary to what many people think, the State of Indiana does have a valid curfew law.
Indiana Code 31-37-3-2 states that a law enforcement officer can write a citation and/or place a minor child in custody without a legal guardian present who is:
* age 15 or younger in a public place between 11 p.m.-5 a.m. on any day of the week,
* age 16 or 17 in a public place between 1-5 a.m., Saturday or Sunday mornings,
* age 16 or 17 in a public place after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and
* age 16 or 17 in a public place before 5 a.m., Monday through Friday.
The code allows for a minor to be out past the designated curfew if participating in, going to or returning from gainful employment, attending a school or parental sanctioned event, a religious, government or nonprofit event, involved in an emergency situation or has been legally emancipated.