The Block Island Times

Council debates curfew for minors

By Stephanie Turaj | Jun 23, 2013

The Town Council this week considered creating a midnight curfew for anyone aged 17 and under, whether visitors or residents.

Requiring minors to be home by 12 a.m. was a direct response to concerns about drug and alcohol abuse problems on-island, said Town Councilor Sean McGarry.

“There are lot of things going on out there. If we could save one minor child from the kind of things that potentially exist on this island, I think it’s a good idea,” said McGarry.

McGarry also said that the curfew “helps parents parent.” He explained that it would give parents a reason and explanation to give to their children about why there would be a curfew.

Several other of the Town Councilors agreed with McGarry at the Wednesday, June 19 meeting.

“I think this is a good idea, given what we’ve talked about with the drug problem, the alcohol problem on island,” said Town Councilor Chris Warfel. “This is an age group that is very vulnerable.”

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea,” said Town Councilor Norris Pike. “There’s no good to be had after midnight.”

However, First Warden Kim Gaffett disagreed with the idea.

“I had a curfew, and my parents set it,” she said. “I don’t understand why we have a government entity saying ‘you have to be home at [the age of] 16 or at 17 or 18.’ It’s a parental issue.”

She also said, “It’s just, where you do you stop legislating?”

Second Warden Ken Lacoste asked, “Is there a demonstrated need to have this in place?”

Police Chief Vincent Carlone responded directly to Lacoste’s question: “We do get reports of kids out to 2 or 3 in morning. I see some of the parents out looking for them. A lot of times they don’t want me to know that their kids are out. I will help find the kids.”

Carlone said that kids the age of 15 or 16 should not be out of the house during these late hours. “If we see kids that look young out at midnight, we have a standard policy to say, ‘where are you going?’ We may call their parents, or we may even bring them to the police station, because it’s just not safe,” he said.

Kim Gaffett said that she has observed that the most “trouble” comes from kids ages 18 to 21, not under 18.

The council discussed what age groups would be covered under this curfew, how ages would be proven, and the exceptions, such as emergencies.

Ultimately, the council decided it would like more public input on the issue. The council voted to have two councilors, McGarry and Warfel, work with the police chief to begin a plan. The vote for this was 4-1, with Gaffett opposed.

“A 12 a.m. curfew is more than enough for a youngster to experience life and still get home at a reasonable hour,” said Warfel. “I think it’s just a good tool for the island to try and attack some of the problems we’ve had over the past couple of months.”

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