HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Harrisburg Bureau of Police announced they will soon begin to reinforce a 2007 ordinance stating that children under 18 years old must adhere to a curfew unless they are out for an approved reason.
The city has been planning to start enforcing the curfew again for a while because the city says they have been getting a lot of complaints from neighbors and businesses in the downtown and midtown neighborhoods about juveniles causing trouble.
“There’s an uptick in car thefts involving juveniles. There’s an uptick in firearms being taken from juveniles,” said Harrisburg director of communications Matt Maisel.
According to the ordinance, the after-hours curfew says that children under the age of 18 may not be in a public place between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday nights and between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“We don’t expect this to be some sort of magic eraser that is going to fix all of the issues immediately. But it’s something that we can do now that’s better than doing nothing at all,” said Maisel.
The curfew regulations will not apply to youth attending an event, like a concert, school religious function, or sporting event. It will also not affect individuals coming home from work, or people traveling through the city.
“We need to do a better job by our kids. This ordinance is to benefit them,” said Mayor Wanda R.D. Williams. “There is no reason why children should be out at night, disrupting neighborhoods and getting involved in fights.”
As quoted in a release, the conditions under which the curfew will not be enforced are below.
- The minor is accompanied by a parent, guardian, or responsible adult.
- The minor is involved in an emergency.
- The minor is engaged in an activity, such as work, a concert, or a sporting event, or is returning home from said activity, without detour or stop.
- The minor is on the sidewalk directly next to their home
- The minor is attending an activity sponsored by a school, religious, or civic organization, which is supervised by adults or is returning home from said activity.
- The minor is on an errand at the direction of a parent, with a signed note from the parent containing the following information: name, signature, address, and telephone number of the adult authorizing the errand.
- The minor is traveling through the city.
“We plan on having additional enforcement details downtown during these times,” said Commissioner Thomas Carter. “The goal is not to be the bad guy here. We just want our kids to be safe.”
If someone is caught violating the curfew, Harrisburg Police officers will pick up the individuals violating the ordinance and return them to their home or place of residence, at which point they will only be released to a parent, guardian, or responsible adult.
If someone is picked up who does not live in the City of Harrisburg, they will be held at the Public Safety Building, located at 123 Walnut Street, until a parent, guardian, or responsible adult arrives to pick them up.
The city is looking into penalties for those out past curfew.
“As of right now there is no penalty, fine, charge anything like that,” said Maisel.
“In terms of penalties would have to be an amendment that would have to go in front of the council. And that is something that is being explored,” said Maisel.