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Hammond seeks to enhance curfew laws

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HAMMOND — The village of Hammond is looking to extend the hours of its curfew and increase fines and penalties for guardians and children found violating the 21-year-old law.

To fight what some say is a rising number of vandalism incidents, village officials are proposing to increase fines from $50 to $250, impose a maximum jail sentence of 15 days and change the 10 p.m. curfew to 9 p.m. from Labor Day to May 1 for anyone 16 years old or younger found on the streets without a guardian.

The proposed law also states that if a guardian does not pick up the child accused of violating the curfew within two hours after being notified by police, the child can be released for future processing or turned over to the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services.

"It's bigger penalties because the ones that we had in effect were really outdated. It changes it a little bit more to the parent aspect of the situation, as well," Mayor Shelly M. Youngs said. "We're basically updating it to make it current and more effective."

The Board of Trustees worked on the changes with village attorney Mark G. Gebo over the summer to ensure that the changes could be in affect by Halloween, she said.

"We have had issues with kids in Hammond this year, with tires slashed and that kind of thing," town constable Donald H. Greene said. "There's more rumors this year that things are going to happen on Halloween. That's why they're kind of pushing it."

According to Mr. Greene, the incidents of vandalism are on the rise, although they aren't always reported and arrests are rarely made. He said that the tires of a van parked on Main Street were slashed recently, and state police confirmed that the Hammond Food Pantry has also been burglarized several times in the past year.

"It'll make some kid think twice, maybe, before they do something, if the penalties are a little stiffer and their parents are going to be held responsible for them," he said. "It isn't going to hurt any."

The ability to bring children into custody for a violation like a curfew came into question last year, after a similar law in Rochester was found to be inconsistent with state Family Court Law and Penal Law. But Ms. Youngs said the village decided to include the clause after finding it in several local curfews in the county.

Mr. Gebo said that although he was not familiar with the issue in Rochester, he will review the case and consult with the town if any changes to the proposed law need to be made.

"We gave them a couple of examples from other communities, and they felt that there was a need for that," Mr. Gebo said. "We're certainly not looking to do anything that violates the law here."

The village will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Friday at the Main Street offices to discuss the proposed law.

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