Curfew bill gets support in committee

CITY HALL – Whether they’re on the north side or the south side, nothing good can happen with a child running around outside at 11 or 12 at night.

That’s the idea behind a bill sponsored by Third Ward Alderman Brandon Bosley to lower the curfew to 9:30 p.m. from 11 p.m on weeknights and to 10 p.m. from midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.

The north side alderman believes turning back the time when those who are younger than 17 can be out and about could cut back the chances for mischief and maybe save some lives. 

“The goal is to try to change the atmosphere,” Bosley told the Board of Aldermen’s Public Safety Committee on June 26. Children get shot late at night, he said. “Any child that’s outside who’s not doing something productive, we need to know what’s going on.”

The bill received strong support from Public Safety Committee members from all parts of the city. They voted to send it on to the full Board of Aldermen with a “pass” recommendation. Aldermen may act on it at their meeting on Wednesday.

Twelfth Ward Alderman Larry Arnowitz said he liked the concept. 

“It’s just how do we get it enforced; making the parents responsible would help,” said Arnowitz, whose ward is on the far south side of the city. “I get it, believe me. The problem is a lot of these young kids, unfortunately, have been shot at and killed sitting in front of their houses.”

Fourteenth Ward Alderwoman Carol Howard said the bill was prudent, but she wondered about minors returning from work late at night. Bosley said his bill included an exception for that purpose. 

A minor also may be out later if he or she is returning from a school- or city-sponsored activity or an event sponsored by a religious or other association. A minor also may be out later if he or she is accompanied by a parent or person over 21 or on the sidewalk near his or her house.

The bill specifies that any minor found to be in violation must provide his or her name, address and telephone number and information on how to contact his or her parent to pick the child up. Before the juvenile is released, police shall issue a written warning. 

The second time a juvenile violates a curfew within 12 months, the parent or parents may receive a fine or $300 to $500 or jail time of up to 10 days. That sentence may be suspended if the parent or parents and the juvenile are paroled after completing 60 hours or more of supervised community service.

The third time, the fine would be $400 to $500, or jail time of up to 20 days. The  alternative supervised community service time would be at least 100 hours.

The fourth time, the penalty would be a fine of $500 or jail of 30 days or at least 150 hours of community service for the parent or parents and juvenile.

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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