January 15, 2014 - Unless they have supervision or a valid reason, minors must be off the streets by 10 p.m. under a new curfew ordinance adopted last week by the Oxford Township Board.
Curfew hours are from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and apply to minors under the age of 17.
During that time, it's unlawful for youth to "loiter, idle, wander, stroll, frequent, travel in or upon a motor vehicle, watercraft, or otherwise be or remain in or upon any of the public sidewalks, streets, alleys, parks or public buildings or places of amusement or entertainment or other public grounds or places" within the township.
It's also unlawful for an adult "to allow or permit" a minor to violate the curfew.
The ordinance takes effect Jan. 22.
The curfew doesn't apply to minors accompanied by a parent, guardian, custodian or authorized adult.
There are also exceptions for:
n Minors who are performing "an errand or duty directed by" a parent, guardian or custodian;
n Minors who are "returning directly home from a school or church function or entertainment;"
n Minors whose employment "makes it necessary to be upon the streets, alleys or other public places during the prohibited hours."
Those who violate the proposed ordinance will be guilty of a municipal civil infraction, not a criminal offense, and subject to fines and costs. A person who fails to answer a citation or notice to appear in court for a violation of the curfew ordinance will be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Oakland County Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Patterson, commander of the Oxford Township substation, encouraged the board to enact a curfew in order to give deputies a discretionary tool to deal with youth who are out late and as a result, could potentially cause trouble, commit crimes or make bad decisions.
Without a curfew, deputies can talk to youth and issue warnings in these situations, but unless they're breaking a law or violating a local ordinance, officers cannot compel minors to go home.
"As a law enforcement officer, if you don't have a law to enforce, it's kind of hard to make people comply," Patterson said.
That's where having a curfew ordinance on the books comes into play.
Patterson sees the curfew as simply setting "some reasonable standards for the youth in the community to be home at a reasonable time."
"If you look at all the other areas, these are standard local ordinances that everybody has," he said.
Allowing unsupervised minors to roam the streets between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. is not a good idea, in the sergeant's opinion.
"I don't see anything good happening from that; I really don't," Patterson said. "It's not like they're out doing charity work."
Had there been a curfew ordinance in the past, the sergeant believes deputies might have been able to curtail crimes that typically involve youth such as property damage and thefts from vehicles.
The township's curfew ordinance does not apply within the village limits.
The village has had its own curfew hours since 2005. In the village, minors under the age of 12 are not allowed to be on the streets or in public places between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Curfew hours for minors under the age of 16 are 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
If minors are out in the village during these hours, they must either be accompanied by a parent, guardian or authorized adult, or "engaged in a legitimate business purpose."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.