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Dayton Police Department to conduct curfew sweep for youth in downtown neighborhoods

Dayton Police Car
Desmond Winton-Finklea
Lt. John Riegel said police officers will focus on patrolling downtown Dayton to enforce the city's curfew ordinance.

The Dayton Police Department announced it will enforce and conduct a curfew sweep for minors on Friday night after several complaints in downtown neighborhoods.

Unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 are not allowed in public spaces between the hours of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. per Dayton city ordinance. There are exceptions though – like if a teen is in their front yard or heading back home from work.

The curfew has not been enforced for several years, according to Lt. John Riegel with the Dayton Police Department. But after receiving complaints of graffiti damage and fighting in parks, the department decided to enforce it.

The sweep will focus in downtown, but police officers plan to patrol other neighborhoods around the city.

Riegel said the department did consider alternative options to deter youth crime. He added officers in the past have tried talking with teenagers, but that hasn’t worked.

“We would often take them home. But there's no accountability from the parents' side or whoever is responsible for that juvenile,” Reigel said. “They [the parent] may not even know that their child or that person was out of the house.”

Studies suggest, however, that enforcing juvenile curfews often damages already-strained relationships between police and minors.

The police department additionally hasn’t received training on how to approach youth and developing teens. Reigel said it has received up-to-date training on how to interact with different segments of the population.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board established new minimum standards for best practices between police officers and youth.

As part of the certification process, a police department has to train officers on content focusing on youth development, de-escalation practices, and the special needs of certain youth populations.

Lt. Matt Dickey, the commander of the Training Bureau and Police Academy in Dayton said in an email statement the department is conscious of the effects that law enforcement encounters can have on youth.

“We will review the new standards and will make sure we are in compliance. Our department was one of the earliest agencies in the state to be in full compliance with the Ohio Collaborative Standards,” Dickey said. “We have updated our policies as needed since then.”

Dickey added the department has also taken steps toward how it approaches youth. Such as revising policy to make it optional for officers to restrain or handcuff youth if the officers feel it is safe to do so.

“This was done specifically with the mindset that law enforcement encounters can be harmful to youth’s mental welfare,” Dickey said. “In general, less restrictive options are always considered when dealing with juveniles. Most are cited, summonsed, or turned over to parents.”

If a minor is picked up on Friday during curfew hours, they will be taken to the Central Business District police headquarters to be picked up by the parent. The child and the parent will also receive a minor misdemeanor citation.

The parent or guardian will additionally receive a list of potential resources in hopes of preventing the juvenile from breaking curfew again, according to a statement.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming