Last night, in what's become an annual scavenger hunt of sorts, Orange County officers nabbed 26 unsuspecting minors who were out past curfew. The event is a curfew sweep, and its goal, according to the District Attorney's office, is "to prevent juveniles from being victims of or participants in gang crimes." Though it's also a media spectacle--journalists are invited to ride along with cops, so they can go back and write dramatic tales like this one.
For children 17 and under, curfews begin at 10 or 11 p.m., depending on the city, and last until 5 a.m. the following day. The 26 teens were arrested, patted down and thumbprinted. Their parents, who got called to come pick them up, had to watch a documentary on gang violence.
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Curfew sweeps usually net more juvies, but officials blamed the cold weather, according to the Orange County Register.
Here's the report from the DA:
LAW ENFORCEMENT NET 26 JUVENILES IN ONE OF LARGEST-EVER OC CURFEW SWEEP
ORANGE COUNTY - One of the largest-ever Orange County curfew sweeps was conducted last night by law over 200 law enforcement officers, netting 26 juveniles in violation of city curfew laws. These curfew sweeps, organized by the Orange County Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (OCGRIP), aim to prevent juveniles from being victims of or participants in gang crimes. OCGRIP works to identify at-risk youth, increase school attendance, and decrease gang activity.
The OCGRIP curfew sweeps were hosted by Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA), Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD), Orange Police Department, Orange County Probation Department, and the Orange County Gang Investigations Association. The participating agencies included police departments from the Cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Garden Grove, La Habra, Placentia, Santa Ana, and Tustin, and the Santa Ana Unified School Police. OCSD patrolled the Cities of Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, and north and south unincorporated Orange County. Senator Lou Correa attended the sweep.
Last night and early this morning, officers patrolled Orange County cities and unincorporated areas for children ages 17 and under out in public past curfew, in violation of city laws. Curfews in Orange County begin at 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m., depending on the city, and last until 5:00 a.m. the following day. Minors are prohibited from being in public during these hours unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian or are subject to circumstantial exceptions made for minors participating in employment, educational, or emergency activities.
The teams conducting the curfew sweeps found 26 juveniles in violation of curfew ordinances. The curfew sweeps focused mainly on areas with a high volume of gang and/or criminal activity and all gang injunction Safety Zones. In addition to the curfew sweeps, the enforcement teams provided standard police patrol.
The minors found in violation of curfew laws were taken in police cars to law enforcement headquarters and held until their parents arrived to pick them up. Before releasing the juvenile to their parent, the juvenile and parent were required to meet with representatives from OCDA and other participating law enforcement agencies to discuss the dangers and legal consequences for both the parent and child who violate curfew laws. They also met with probation officers for references to resources such as parenting classes, substance abuse treatment and family therapy. One juvenile was picked up for possession of a knife and was directly transported to Orange County Juvenile Hall.
The legal consequences of violating curfew laws could include misdemeanor criminal prosecution with penalties ranging from fines up to six months in jail for the parent or juvenile hall for the child, plus the associated financial costs. Parents also met with representatives from Community Service Programs, Inc., Pepperdine Resource, Youth Diversion, and Education (PRYDE), and Saddleback Church for information on resources available to them to help with their children.
The curfew sweeps are conducted during regular patrol by on-duty officers and at no extra cost to taxpayers.