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Oct 3, 2015 12:18 PM

Committee recommending against curfew proposal in Somersworth


SOMERSWORTH — A committee evaluating a proposed curfew for youth ages 16 and under will be recommending against it when the issue goes before the city council Monday night.

According to Fosters.com, the curfew, if adopted, would make it unlawful for any juvenile under the age of 16 years to be on any public street, highway, park, vacant lot or any other public place after 9 p.m. The measure has been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union in New Hampshire.

Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard had proposed the idea and said previously: "We have a vast number of juveniles under the age of 16 that are wandering the streets at all hours of the night."

"We’re talking about unsupervised behavior, which is really a recipe for disaster,” he added.

But the city's Public Safety Committee met last week and, after discussion, voted 3-1 vote against the proposal, according to Fosters.

Among other issues, police statistics showed that criminal mischief complaints were down over the past few years.

Another reason is that implementing the curfew would require a bell or whistle that could be heard city-wide to announce the curfew. The bells, once a common feature in many local communities, are no longer operational in the city.

An early supporter of the proposal, City Councilor David Witham said he has become concerned about the cost to implement a curfew and the burden it would create for taxpayers.

“We learned it could be many thousands of dollars to get the bell system operational,” Witham told Fosters. “We also had feedback from the city attorney who said the city would incur legal costs to defend the ordinance should it be challenged in court. I supported it, but the cost involved makes me think twice.”

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