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City councilman proposes stricter curfew for juveniles

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Toledo Councilman Larry Sykes conducts a finance committee meeting in One Government Center on September 21, 2017.

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Toledo City Councilman Larry Sykes is proposing a stricter curfew — one that would require Toledoans under 16 to be home by 9 p.m. — in an effort to prevent crimes committed by children and teenagers.

The proposal was prompted by the December death of Marquise Byrd, 22, of Warren, Mich., a car passenger who was killed after a sandbag fell on him that was thrown from an I-75 overpass. Toledo police arrested four teens — all under 16 — who officers said are responsible for the incident.

“If this ordinance was in effect, I believe it would have changed the lives of several youth that are presently in jail or on trial because of crimes they allegedly committed when they should have been home in their own house,” Mr. Sykes told his fellow councilmen Tuesday during an agenda-review meeting.

Mr. Sykes said the woman who was driving the car when Mr. Byrd was killed is a relative of his.

“I think it’s time that we start looking at what we can do to prevent these types of incidents [and] control our youth from being out at night unsupervised before they get into trouble,” he said.

The city’s current curfew ordinance shows a child under 11 must be home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.; children ages 11-15 have a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.; and youths 16-17 must be off the streets from midnight to 5 a.m.

Mr. Sykes wants to change the rules so children under 16 have a curfew of 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., and those 16 and 17 must be home between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. “unless the child is going to or coming from an officially sanctioned school system program or event,” his proposal reads.

He also wants to change language in the ordinance to establish a fine of up to $500 for curfew violations.

City Council could hear Mr. Sykes’ proposal as early as Tuesday. Council President Matt Cherry said it likely will be referred to a committee for further discussion and public hearings.

Mr. Cherry said he needs time to study the proposal, and he expects citizens will have questions, too.

“It’s an idea that definitely needs to be looked at,” he said.

Toledo police Chief George Kral said experts at the Lucas County Juvenile Justice Center should be consulted about any possible changes to the curfew ordinance. He added that he’d like to see more work done to get to the root of problem behaviors, perhaps through social-service referrals, rather than simply addressing the symptoms.

Karen Poore, the city’s deputy chief of staff and safety director, said the Kapszukiewicz administration echoes Chief Kral’s position.

Contact Sarah Elms at: selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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