Evanston aldermen Monday gave final approval to an ordinance that will require persons under 17 years of age to be off the streets an hour earlier than before.

The ordinance sets curfew hours of 10 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, to match recently enacted changes to Chicago’s curfew ordinance.

Police Chief Richard Eddington, in a memo to aldermen, said he expects the ordinance will require spending an additional $53,000 over the summer to pay for additional staffing in the police juvenile office to enforce the new rules.

He said that because state law declares curfew violations to be a status offense, it’s illegal for police to place a youth charged only with a curfew violation in a jail cell, so a police officer must always be present to monitor them in the room where they’re being held.

In recent years Evanston police have arrested less than 50 youths per year for curfew violations, and records indicate less than a quarter of those incidents have led to the payment of fines to the city.

The new ordinance contains a variety of exemptions, including for youngsters who are accompanied by a parent, guardian or responsible companion at least 21 years of age, who are on an errand at the direction of their parents, who are attending supervised school, religious or other recreational activities, or who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

Aldermen had voiced fears that with the earlier curfew in Chicago youngsters would be crossing over into Evanston to be able to stay out later.

The new law is expected to take effect within a few days.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Once they’re out of the barn
    The absurdity of trying to tell 16 year olds who have already had a later curfew that they now have to be in at 11 on weekend nights is enormous. You could start it on a date certain (so if you turn 16 after July 1 2008 for example) but to imagine kids who have been staying out until midnight are going to believe they have to come in earlier is to imagine wrong.

    Don’t we have way better stuff to ask the police to do? Like deal with the gangs and drug dealing that led to the shooting last week?

    1. Missing the point
      You are profoundly missing the point of the curfew. This ordinance, whether any of the officials will say it directly, is aimed at the gangs and drug dealers. This is an effort to get the younger kids off the streets sooner, and to match the curfew time to Chicago’s new one. The costs (both in terms of time and money) are unfortunate, but this will be another tool the police can use to identify and penalize the kids who aren’t following city ordinances.

    2. New curfew
      While I certainly understand the frustration of the person posting… The shooting happened near my building… I think we as a community need to focus on preventative measures rather than putting it all on the police to respond. We need to come up with a collaborative approach, meaning citizens AND police …. and understand that these things will not change overnight. What are other communities doing that is working… are there ways we can leverage those ideas? Perhaps this is something our aldermen can lead?

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