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Massena adopts nightly curfew

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MASSENA - For the first time in nearly 20 years, the village will begin enforcing a nightly curfew.

The village Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt a revised curfew law. The law requires children under 16 years old to be off the streets from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The village has had a curfew law on its books since 1969, but stopped enforcing it in 1993 because of questions over its constitutionality. Parents, for example, cannot be arrested for having children violate the curfew if they were unaware the youngster had left the house.

Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said the revised law addresses those constitutionality concerns and could help deter juvenile crime in the village. Officials began considering a revised law several months ago, and Mr. Currier proposed the revamped curfew last month.

“It gives us a tool to ensure that we don’t have juveniles on the streets after hours,” he said. “Hopefully, it gives parents another tool to help supervise their children.”

Police will give children a warning on their first offense of the curfew and provide written notification to their parents, Mr. Currier said. A second offense could lead to 20 hours of community service, and additional offenses could be sent to St. Lawrence County Family Court.

Parents of children violating the curfew could be charged $100 for the second violation and $250 thereafter, serve up to 15 days in jail, perform community service or a combination of the three.

Mr. Currier previously said the penalties would be a “worst-case scenario” for curfew violators. In most cases, police would use the curfew as a reminder to children to remain indoors at night.

“We anticipate a learning curve so we expect to be educating people before we fully enforce it,” Mr. Currier told the village board Tuesday.

The law will kick into effect 30 days after the village files the revised law with the state. Mr. Currier said he has been in discussions with the Massena Fire Department to sound the fire whistle at 10 p.m. nightly, as a curfew reminder.

“I remember as a kid, when you heard that horn you were on your way home,” Mr. Currier said.

The board approved the law following a public hearing with no input, other than from the village board.

Trustee Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies said he hoped the curfew could deter vandalism in the village’s parks.

“This is long overdue with the stuff that’s been going on in this town,” he said.

Mayor James F. Hidy echoed a similar sentiment. He regretted that curfew enforcement had gone by the wayside in the last two decades.

“It should have never been interrupted,” Mr. Hidy said. “It’s always been a good tool for parents in managing their children.”

“It’s something that’s needed,” Mr. Hidy said. “It’s going to help our police officers in the long run combat juvenile issues.”

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