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Recent teen homicides prompt questions of Cincinnati's curfew laws

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Are Cincinnati's curfew laws adequate, and are they being enforced? These are questions Local 12 is asking the city of Cincinnati following two 14-year-olds being shot and killed in the past week -- the latest in Lower Price Hill.

The makeshift memorial has been growing outside the door where Cameron Franklin was gunned down late Saturday night. It was just before midnight. So, what was Franklin doing out so late and why isn't more being done to keep our teens safe?

"When you know it's going to get dark,” said Mary Weekley, a Lower Price Hill resident, “you bring your butt home."

Weekley raised 11 kids and says she believes it's the parents' responsibility to keep their kids in at night. Local 12 spoke with Franklin's stepfather, who agrees.

Cincinnati's curfew law states anyone under 16 needs to be at home by 10 p.m. Anyone 16 or 17 needs to be home by midnight. If police catch violators, they can detain them and demand parents pick them up within two hours, otherwise it's Juvenile Detention. Parents get one warning, then they get a minor misdemeanor -- also a minor misdemeanor for not picking up their kids within two hours.

But the question is, are these curfew laws being enforced?

Local 12 asked an 18-year-old from Lower Price Hill whether police ask the underage kids whether they should be out when they patrol the area after 10 p.m.

"No. They don't," answered Chartez Harris.

"They are being enforced. We are doing what we are able to do. This is a city of over 300,000 people. We are not going to be everywhere at all times. We need parents to be responsible for their children. It is their responsibility," said Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac.

A letter from 2012 to City Council reflects concerns from the City West Neighborhood Association that curfew laws weren't being enforced. The city said in June of that year it had 15 arrests, and a few months later, 19 arrests. The curfew ordinance also says the Human Relations Commission (now the Office of Human Relations) is supposed to have procedures to evaluate the efficacy of the curfew laws and prepare an annual report to the city council.

Paul M. Booth is the head of the Office of Human Relations. He says, to his knowledge, it has never been done in the history of the ordinance, which was passed in 1994.

"That's a good question. I can't answer that. It just got away. It's the best thing we can say: It's gotten away. Obviously we got to get back to it," said Booth when asked why this has never been done.

Weekley says the police need to get back to picking up kids who are violating curfew.

"Pick them up and take them home to their parents," she said.

The office of Human Relations says it's now going to do that evaluation, and report to City Council within 90 days.

There have been no arrests thus far for Saturday’s murder of Franklin, or the murder last week of the 14-year-old in Over-the-Rhine. There will be a candlelight vigil Monday night at 8:30 in Lower Price Hill to commemorate Franklin and urge the community to stem the violence.


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