A midnight curfew set for teens in Harlem two years ago is seldom prosecuted, but city officials say it has been an effective deterrent to loitering and mischief.
In the two years since Harlem enacted a curfew, police have issued only four citations, but Public Safety Director Jerry Baldwin said the ordinance is having a positive effect.
"We've utilized it several times, and generally what we do is ask the teenagers to go home at the proper time," Baldwin said. "We generally issue warnings. We don't want to make cases, obviously, on something like that unless we absolutely have to."
The city ordinance set the curfew on all persons younger than 18, Baldwin said. If cited, violators face a misdemeanor charge with penalties of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine by Georgia code.
Baldwin said the city was being proactive when it drafted the ordinance and was not reacting to any specific problem.
The city enacted the ordinance to follow suit with state driver's licenses for teens. Exceptions are made for teens traveling to or from religious activities, work, emergencies or in the company of a parent or guardian.
"We get a lot of voluntary compliance just by issuing a warning and obviously the parents have been very supportive," he said.
Harlem Mayor Scott Dean said he has only heard one complaint.
"Realistically, I think everyone I've talked to (says) it's helping keep some of the ones who lead to mischief out of mischief," Dean said.
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