Authorities Trumpet Largest Orange County Curfew Sweep

About 300 officers from 20 law enforcement agencies made sweeps through various Orange County communities last night and early today and swooped up 67 kids in violation of city curfew laws, the District Attorney's office announced.

Curfews begin at 10 or 11 p.m., depending on the city, and last until 5 a.m. the following day. During those hours, minors can't be out in public unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, working or taking part in an educational endeavor.

The DA, which billed it as the largest-ever curfew sweep in Orange County, explains more in its statement after the jump . . .  

November 13, 2009

*This is the first Orange County-wide curfew sweep and the largest multi-agency collaboration to date

ORANGE COUNTY – A County-wide curfew sweep was conducted last night by law enforcement officers from approximately 20 agencies, netting 67 juveniles in violation of city curfew laws. This was the largest-ever curfew sweep in Orange County and included the largest number of participating agencies and juveniles contacted to date. These curfew sweeps, organized by the Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (GRIP), aim to prevent juveniles from being victims of or participants in gang crimes. GRIP works to identify at-risk youth, increase school attendance, and decrease gang activity. GRIP committees now operate in Anaheim, Orange, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, and will soon be operating in Buena Park. 

County-wide Curfew Sweeps
Last night and early this morning, approximately 300 officers patrolled over 20 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 67 juveniles in violation of curfew ordinances. The minors ranged from 13 to 17 years old. The curfew sweeps focused mainly on areas with a high volume of gang and/or criminal activity including gang neighborhoods, the Block at Orange, Kaleidoscope in Mission Viejo, all major malls, 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 the back of police cars to one of three headquarters located in south, central, and north Orange County, and held until their parents arrived to pick them up. Before releasing the juvenile to their parent, the juvenile and parent had to meet with representatives from the Orange County District Attorney's Office to discuss the dangers and legal consequences for both the parent and child for violating curfew laws. They also met with Orange County Probation Department officers for references to resources such as parenting classes, substance abuse treatment and family therapy.

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. and volunteer counselors from Pepperdine University for information on resources available to them to help with their children.

This GRIP curfew sweep was hosted by the Anaheim Police Department, Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA), Orange County Probation Department, and Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD). The participating law enforcement agencies included the OCDA Bureau of Investigation, California Highway Patrol, University of California, Irvine Police Department, Santa Ana Unified School District Police Department, and the police departments from the Cities of Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, and Tustin. The OCSD patrolled the Cities of Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, Villa Park, and the unincorporated areas of north Orange County.

Successes of Past Curfew Sweeps
The curfew sweeps are conducted during regular patrol by on-duty officers and at no extra cost to taxpayers. Since January 2008, GRIP has worked with over 10,000 Orange County residents on gang prevention efforts and as many as 400 parents at each targeted GRIP school participate in monthly gang prevention community activities.

As a result of GRIP curfew and truancy programs, including the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Gang Prevention Incentive, many targeted schools have received as much as $20,000 each from the State for increased student attendance. The Orange County Grand Jury recognized GRIP as one of the most effective gang prevention programs in Orange County and recommended that GRIP be expanded County-wide.

In July 2009, the Orange Police Department (OPD) conducted a curfew sweep, focusing on the Block at Orange. The sweep found juveniles in possession of alcohol and methamphetamine. Many of the juveniles were documented gang members from both Orange and Los Angeles Counties.  Since July 2009, OPD has conducted weekly curfew sweeps and seen a reduction in curfew violations at the Block in Orange from over 100 juveniles to approximately 10 juveniles on any given night.

Multiple curfew sweeps have been conducted by the Anaheim Police Department, and a large-scale north Orange County sweep was held in May 2009. Juveniles associated with gangs who were contacted during these sweeps were ordered to complete community service by cleaning up gang graffiti. Parents of gang members were instructed to participate in counseling. Every person involved in these sweeps successfully completed their requirements.

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