MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The county prosecutor is working with the Muskegon City Police Department this weekend on a proactive curfew enforcement program.
Extra police cruisers will be patrolling, Friday and Saturday night, picking up kids under 17 who are out past 11 p.m., and kids under 12 who are out past 10 p.m. Police then take those kids to see a county prosecutor. The prosecutor explains to the kids and their parents the dangers of being out past curfew, and give them the option to participate in the curfew program and avoid criminal prosecution.
The violator can choose to sign a contract where he or she agrees to no more curfew violations, to commit no crimes and to enroll in a “positive activity.”
“The whole idea is not to create a whole wing of juvenile delinquents that are curfew violators, it’s to basically enforce this idea that you need to make some wiser choices,” said Muskegon County Prosecutor DJ Hilson.
The program started in 2012, and is primarily done in the summertime and early fall. Muskegon City Department of Public Safety Director Jeff Lewis told 24 Hour News 8 over the phone Wednesday that the department can elect to have patrols during different times of the year if necessary.
According to the county prosecutor’s website, in the summer of 2012, 47 kids entered into a contract, and in 2013, that number was 38 kids. Lewis said that his officers have seen a difference, and that now sometimes they don’t find any curfew violators on patrol.
Hilson told 24 Hour News 8 that there wasn’t a single incident that inspired the curfew intervention program, but rather it started because of a combination of feedback from community members and police officers. Hilson said his office has partnered with the city of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights police departments.
Hilson told 24 Hour News 8 that the program actually had a dual purpose, and hopefully a dual set of results.
“It’s a both a short term and a long term benefit,” said Hilson. “Short term, for us, it does put extra patrols out on the streets – certainly that extra police presence is appreciated – but long term, we’re hoping that we don’t see the folks caught up in these sweeps that we don’t see them later as juvenile delinquents because of other issues, or they [become an] adult and we’re dealing with adult crimes.”
Hilson went on to say, “We’re dealing with kids who are under the age of 16, that’s the state law and most city ordinances are dealing with that age group. Now certainly, I think if the legislature wanted to take a look at it and incorporate some of these other age groups it might be worth looking at.”
He also acknowledged the criminal problems some places in Muskegon County have had recently.
“We’ve had, I’ll say young men and young women who are of the age where they are no longer considered juveniles, and make bad choices, and ultimately they are seeing the results of that,” said Hilson. “And the whole idea is to prevent, is to early educate and prevent that from happening.”
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