Duluth imposes new curfew on teens under 18

Teens in Duluth will have to follow a new curfew, the City Council decided late Monday night, in an effort to curb vandalism and late-night disturbances.

"It's not just a thing to control them, but it's also to keep them safe," said Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay.

The curfew requires minors under the age of 16 to be home between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Those who are 16 or 17 years old must be home between midnight and 5 a.m.

Ramsay said a disproportionate number of crimes are committed by juveniles, including vandalism, underage drinking and fights.

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He estimates that more than half of the 10,000 vandalism incidents in Duluth during the last year were committed by juveniles. The biggest offense -- graffiti.

"We started working on this probably a year ago," Ramsay said. "We had seen an increase in graffiti, and we knew that much of it was happening late at night in the hours of darkness."

The curfew does not apply to teens who are accompanied by a parent or guardian, if they are at a school or church event, or are dealing with an emergency errand.

The city's previous curfew had been in place since 1959, but only applied to teens 15 and younger.

Teens caught breaking the curfew will have to attend a juvenile diversion program and complete community service for their first offense, Ramsay said.

After that, they'll have to pay a fine, starting at $50, he said.

"Not only do we know the juveniles commit a disproportionate amount of crime, but they are also disproportionately high in the number of victims as well," Ramsay said.