Winchester Reviews Curfew for Teens, Children


WINCHESTER, Va. - After several years of pressing the issue, Winchester’s City Council is finally reviewing the City's curfew laws.

"The initiative started several years ago, with recognizing what the curfew actually was,” said Vivian Walker, a Block Captain with the North End Neighborhood Watch Group. “Unfortunately our voices were unheard. This year, I’m really excited to see Chief Sanzenbacher and the [Winchester Police Department’s] Community Response Team really tackle the juvenile issue."

North end citizens say juveniles contribute to a slew of neighborhood crimes, especially during summer months.

"We’ve had problems with the disrespect to our elderly generation, who would otherwise just like to relax on their front porch,” said Walker. “Some have even gone on the porches and vandalized [them], thrown trash about and injured animals, kittens, even."

North end citizens aren’t the only ones asking for help. Winchester Police agree, and have seen a spike in complaints involving juveniles in the summer months.

"My midnight shift came to me and said, ‘Hey Chief, can we get a extra tool to deal with some of the [juvenile] issues by raising the age limit? [We need] a more effective tool in dealing with some of these kids running around late at night,’" said Winchester Police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher, who is championing the curfew proposal to city council.

In Winchester, the current curfew laws apply to kids who are 14 years old or younger. Children younger than 15 have to be in by 11 p.m. on weekdays, and by midnight on weekends. Curfew restrictions end at 5 a.m. every day.

Chief Sanzenbacher and the north end citizens are asking that city council raise the age limit from 14 years old to 16 years old. If passed, minors under the age of 17 would have to abide by the same hourly restrictions already put in place.

"I wouldn't want my 16 year old to be out past 11. I don't really see the reason why. Nothing really good can come after midnight," said Onna Keller, a mother and resident of Winchester.

Under the City's current curfew laws, a first offense results in a class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a $250 maximum fine. If a second offense is received in less than 90 days, the minor could get up to 6 months in jail.

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