Local News
7:00 am
Sun April 27, 2014

Mayor Fischer is Interested in Toughening Louisville's Curfew Law, but Police Write Few Citations

Credit Louisville Metro Police

One idea floated in the aftermath of the string of violence by young people last month in downtown Louisville is strengthening the city's curfew law.

At the moment, Louisville doesn't permit people 18 and younger from being out after 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on weekends (with several exceptions). The curfew ends on all days at 6 a.m.

"We are exploring methods to hold parents/guardians accountable through legal avenues and are seeking creative ways to enhance parental involvement and responsibility," Mayor Greg Fischer wrote earlier this month in an open letter.

The idea of enhancing the city's curfew law (here's the current ordinance) is still part of the mayor's overall plan in response to last month's violence, a spokesman for his office said. But there is no timeline for announcing what those changes might look like.

And Louisville Metro Police in recent years has written no more than a few dozen citations—if that many—under the curfew law each year. Here's a breakdown:

The ordinance allows for a fine of as much as $500 for the parent, Chief Steve Conrad told Metro Council members earlier this month.  

The law poses a few challenges. Conrad also told council members that state law prohibits officers from taking young people into custody except in limited situations for a "status offenses"—with a court order for not appearing in court for a prior status offense or a child considered a habitual runaway. Officers stop the child to find out who the child is and write a citation to the parents.

And then all an officer "can do is direct that child to go home," take them into custody in the limited circumstances described above, or take the child home with parental permission, Conrad said. 

City officials are working with the county attorney's office to see what else can be done with the curfew law, Conrad said. Ideas include adding the ability to shift times in a "dynamic situation," or to create specific restrictions for areas where issues have been more prevalent.

Conrad noted in that meeting that the incidents in March happened on a Saturday before 1 a.m., and so those teenagers wouldn't have been violating the law.

Conrad recently told WFPL that he views the curfew as a "tool"—not only for impeding "troublemakers" but also to keep young people safe.

“Really, it is officer dependent," Conrad added. "In some cases, when we are having problems with crime at night, officers are actively looking for that problem and trying to address it. In other situations you might receive call for service about some sort of a problem and you see young kids out well after the curfew. There is a lot of different ways you might encounter it.

“It gives our officers the opportunity, when they see young people, to remind them that the curfew hours are in place and whether it is a weeknight when it is 11 or weekend when it is 1, and send them on their way. Now, in situations when they don’t go on their way the curfew allows us to cite their parents.”