CHAMPLAIN — Residents under the age of 18 will have to be off village streets by 10 p.m., according to a new curfew law.
The new law was announced at a news conference in the Champlain Village Offices Nov. 20 following its passage by the village board Nov. 4.
Mayor Janet McFetridge cited a summer of numerous acts of vandalism, theft and kids throwing rocks at windows and cars, among other disturbances, as the driving force behind the board passing the law.
“Elderly people told me, ‘I’m afraid at night; I’m afraid to walk in the village,’” McFetridge said. “The downtown playground got a bad reputation as a place to not let your child go. This summer was bad.”
The law states that it shall be unlawful for any child under the age of 18 to loiter, peddle or remain on any village streets or public places between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or other person having legal control, McFetridge said.
There are exceptions to the law, like being on an errand directed by a parent, or coming and going from work or after-school activities, among others.
A copy of the full law can be obtained at the village offices.
Accompanying the mayor at the news conference was Clinton County Sheriff David Favro, Clinton County Legislator and Public Safety Chairperson Mark Henry (R-Area 3, Chazy) and County Legislature Chairman Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain).
Favro stressed that law enforcement are viewing the law as a tool to keep young people safe and engage them in a conversation, not as a restriction meant to punish.
“If we see a group of young people clearly under the age of 18, we can ask them, ‘How old are you?’ Now they don’t have the opportunity to say, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong, I’m not going to talk to you,” and just walk away,” Favro said. “They may make a comment and say, “Look, we’re not out here causing any trouble, but you ought to go see the hillbilly gang; They’re the ones that are down there doing all the graffiti.’”
McFetridge said that the curfew will operate under a three-tier warning system, with an individual’s first violation resulting in a letter of warning, the second violation resulting in a $100 fine and the third resulting in a $250 fine, with other legal repercussions if the violations persist.
“It really is about safety,” McFetridge said. “A lot of the kids in the summer who weren’t doing any kind of vandalism were still at risk. They were skateboarding down the middle of the street, or they were trying to walk on the arches on the bridge, doing dangerous activities that really could be a tragedy. I wanted to make sure that (news of the law) was publicly out there so that people understood that yes, we’re taking it seriously, and that there are consequences.”
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