Does your town have a curfew on the books?
You might not realize it, but dozens of New Jersey towns have ongoing curfews for minors under the age of 18.
Is seems, however, most of these curfews are only selectively enforced.
According to Michael Darcy, executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the reason for having a curfew can vary from town to town.
“Sometimes it’s in response to concerns about trouble spots in a town where juveniles may be gathering late at night," he said. "You can imagine in the summertime maybe a lot of kids gathering behind a school building, for example, where there’s a playground and being there all night — and a neighboring community might have a problem with that because of the sound of bouncing basketballs at 1 in the morning.”
Darcy pointed out in other instances it could be about illegal activities or nuisance crimes.
He said sometimes there simply isn’t any need for a curfew, although it may still be on the books.
In most cases, when curfews are enforced, “there usually would be exceptions for things like work or medical issues.”
Darcy also pointed out sometimes a town may not have curfew, but there will be an ordinance on the books about parks being closed at certain hours.
“It’s to protect maybe the park infrastructure and the playgrounds from any damage or vandalism, or to protect it from being used for illegal purposes, illegal transactions," he said.
He noted when a curfew is broken it can result in a monetary fine.
“Some of the fines are pretty steep but my understanding is they’re generally not imposed. Mostly the concern is to get the children back home.”
So why might a town keep a curfew on the books when it’s never really enforced?
Darcy said everything may be going fine for several years “and all of a sudden you’ve got a problem with some juvenile activity at night, whether it’s because of an influx of gangs or an influx of homelessness. It’s just a tool that can be helpful in certain situations.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com