WINFIELD | Effective immediately, the town of Winfield has a curfew for children younger than 18 years of age that will be enforced by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.
On Tuesday, the Winfield Town Council unanimously approved the first curfew ordinance in the community’s 20-year history.
Council members said the ordinance is essential because of an uptick in vandalism and theft by juveniles plaguing neighborhoods throughout Winfield and nearby Lakes of the Four Seasons.
Curfew times during weekdays and weekends are specified in the ordinance for those ages 15 through 17 and for children younger than 15.
The ordinance also outlines what activities and situations are not covered by a curfew, and the fines and penalties for violation of curfew.
Children ages 15 through 17 will be in violation of curfew if they are in a public place between midnight and 5 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday; after 10:30 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday or before 5 a.m. on Monday through Friday.
“It is a curfew violation for a child less than 15 years of age to be in a public place after 10 p.m. or before 5:30 a.m. on any day,” states the ordinance, which town attorney David Austgen said was written in accordance with Indiana statute.
The curfew doesn’t apply to minors who are emancipated at the time the child engaged in the prohibited conduct.
This ordinance also doesn’t apply under other specific circumstances. These include
• Accompanied by the child’s parents, guardian or custodian
• Accompanied by an adult specified by the child’s parent, guardian or custodian
• Participating in, going to, or returning from lawful employment; a school-sanctioned activity; a religious event; an emergency; an activity involved in the exercise of the child’s righted protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; or an activity conducted by a nonprofit or governmental entity that provides recreation, education, training or other care under the supervision of one or more adults
• Participating in an activity undertaken at the prior written direction of the child’s parent, guardian or custodian, or
• Engaged in interstate or international travel from a location outside Indiana to another location outside Indiana.
Violations of curfew will result in a fine of no less than $25 and no more than $2,500 for each violation.
The minor child and the parent, guardian or custodian charged with a violation will appear in Lake County Juvenile Court, according to the ordinance.
“This is the first step in initiating our Crime Watch program,” Winfield Town Council member Don Samburg said.
Samburg is organizing the Winfield Crime Watch program in conjunction with the Town Council, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and residents interested in participating in the program.