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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