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Daytime Curfew to Get More Study

August 15, 1996|JOHN POPE

After encountering strong opposition to a proposed daytime curfew for school-age youth, the City Council has agreed to form a committee to study the issue.

The council was set to consider the ordinance Tuesday but delayed voting. Several members said the decision was prompted by a countywide citizens group against daytime curfews.

"I think you've persuaded us to think this through very carefully," Mayor Charles V. Smith told about 50 opponents of the plan at a council meeting.

Smith said that a representative of the group, Citizens for Responsible and Constitutional Laws, will participate in the study team, along with school district, city and police officials.

The plan before the Westminster council would have prohibited any youth aged 6 to 18 from being on streets, parks, playgrounds and other public places from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. without permission when school is in session.

The students would be required to show written proof that they have been allowed to leave school, or face fines or community service.

Such daytime curfew proposals are backed by police chiefs and school district officials throughout Orange County. A growing number of residents and officials have recently spoken out against such laws, however. Last week, Villa Park Mayor Joseph S. Barsa called them "Hitlerism at its worst."

"It creates an environment where every child is a potential suspect," said Robyn Nordell, a Fullerton resident who heads the citizens group. "What you're setting up is a situation that's a miniature police state."

Police Chief James Cook said that in other cities, such as Los Angeles and Monrovia, similar ordinances have reduced truancy and crime.

"We don't feel this is that draconian," Cook said. "It's a balanced ordinance aimed at a problem that needs to be corrected."

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