Ask An Officer: Is There a Curfew in Westminster
Can teenagers get in trouble for being out past dark in the city of Westminster?
Jeffrey Spaulding has been the chief of the Westminster Police Department since January 2, 2004. He came to Westminster with more than thirty years of police experience in the Howard County Police Department.
Chief Spaulding has agreed to work with Patch to answer citizen questions about laws, codes, ordinances, processes and penalties. If you have a question you would like to ask a police officer, post it in the comment section of this article or email email@example.com and we'll do our best to get it answered.
Is there a curfew in Westminster and if so, is it enforceable?
Chief Spaulding: In the early seventies the City of Westminster enacted a curfew ordinance which applied to children 15 years of age and younger. The law essentially made it unlawful for these children to be in any public areas of the City from 10 p.m. until 30 minutes before sunrise unless they were accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Children violating the ordinance could be taken into custody by a police officer and returned to their parents. Multiple violations could result in prosecution under the ordinance. Parents could also be held legally accountable for allowing their children to violate the law.
Federal and State Court decisions in the intervening years have invalidated most curfew laws on constitutional grounds. Based upon a legal review of the specifics of the City of Westminster curfew ordinance earlier in 2012, the Common Council elected to repeal that portion of the City Code. As a result, there is no longer a curfew ordinance in the City.
If you have concerns regarding the conduct of unsupervised children in your community you should contact your local police department – regardless of the time of day.
*This column offers a broad response to questions and should not be considered legal advice.