Curfews to align in two cities

Independence, Monmouth work together to ease confusion

INDEPENDENCE — Pending council approval, youths coming and going across the city border with Monmouth will no longer be confused about curfew.

A proposed change to the curfew ordinance will make it easier for officers to understand, too, said Independence Police Chief Bob Mason at a joint city council work session on Sept. 29.

The councils and mayors from both Monmouth and Independence listened to a joint presentation by the police chiefs Mason and Darrell Tallan on the topic.

The concerns about the inconsistent and somewhat confusing curfews between Monmouth and Independence came up at Independence’s April council meeting held at Central High School.

“It’s very difficult to go from one town to the other, to know if they’re in compliance,” Mason said.

In Independence, the curfew ordinance is different for those 15 and younger, and for those aged 15 to 17.

“This has long been an issue for the youth, and the parents, and the officers,” Tallan said. “Sometimes they (officers) weren’t able to remember what it was off the top of their head.”

Monmouth’s ordinance is for anyone younger than 18, making it easier for all to understand, Tallan said.

“If it’s anything prior to a no-school day, Friday and Saturday, it’s 11:59 p.m.,” he said. “State law is midnight for anyone under 18. If it’s a night that school follows (Sunday through Thursday), curfew is at 11.”

Adding confusion to Independence’s ordinance was the way school days was defined. Mason said it wasn’t based on days of the week, but rather whether or not there was school for that individual the next day, which was complicated when a child was not in the school system.

If the Monmouth approach is adopted in Independence, the summer curfew will be restricted back. The curfew law in Independence allowed for a later curfew during summer months, where Monmouth’s is consistent all year, Mason said.

“But the Monmouth model seems to be working,” he noted.

Tallan said police officers understand events happen where youths may be out past curfew and take things on a case-by-case basis.

“(Both cities) have good officers who use discretion very well,” he said. “This gives us a tool to start a conversation with youths under 18. This allows us to talk with people who may be out doing something they shouldn’t be doing.”

Tallan noted that police do not have the same issues with curfew as they used to since the advent of cellphones, because parents are tracking their children better.

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