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Dugger establishes curfew, plans neighborhood watch

Monday, October 1, 2012

After a weekend where vandals struck in multiple area communities, Dugger responded by establishing a neighborhood watch and a curfew.

"That might just stop some of the stuff which happened this weekend," Councilman Kermit King said.

Trouble struck Saturday as cars apparently drove through several yards in Dugger and Jasonville, knocking down stop signs and mailboxes while doing "doughnuts" and tearing up the sod.

Police haven't caught the culprits yet, but Town Marshal David Heaton -- who was away from home this weekend and whose yard was among those struck -- said he's working with the Greene and Sullivan County Sheriff's Departments on leads.

"We don't think this was necessarily kids doing this," Heaton said.

While many of the 26 citizens present pushed for a year-round curfew, noting kids are sometimes seen out into the early hours of the morning, Heaton noted that's no longer possible.

"A little over a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to enforce state, city and county curfews," Heaton explained, though adding the ruling did allow curfews for short periods of time, specifically during the month of October.

He suggested the town council restrict those under 18 from being out after 9 p.m. or before 6 a.m. unless they're accompanied by parents or guardians.

Exceptions, he noted, are made for juveniles who are traveling to or from work, church and school functions, so long as they take a reasonable time to get where they're headed and don't dawdle.

Dugger resident Larry Cornelius suggested the town form a local Crimestoppers group, a measure he believes could curb crime.

"I think once the kids in Dugger know we've got our eyes on them, they'll maybe stop doing all this stuff," Cornelius said.

The town council backed the move. However, Town Council President Dwight Nielson wanted more information about training and potential liabilities.

Heaton said he's already got the required information, but added it's not so simple as just forming the group.

Establishing a Crimestoppers group, the marshal explained, requires specific training.

First, Heaton must take a day-long class provided by the state, then return to teach a short seminar to interested locals. That class, he said, should take between one and two hours.

"I'll contact the state tomorrow about the classes," Heaton said Monday evening.

Heaton also emphasized those participating in Crimestoppers cannot patrol armed.

"You cannot carry a weapon," he said.

Monday's meeting also rescuscitated a more pleasant holiday tradition, after a push by Wanda Ranard to restore the town's Halloween parade and costume contest brought plans for Oct. 26.

Reminiscing about past holidays, Ranard remembered Mamie Smith, an elderly woman who always donned a costume for the event. Noting similar celebrations succeed in neighboring Linton, Ranard suggested "I think we should bring that back, for the kids."

While Nielson questioned whether enough time remains to organize a contest with prizes, some who volunteered for contests in previous years stepped up and suggested a month is long enough.

"I'll do it," said Terri Heaton, the town marshal's wife. "I will organize it. I've done it before."

Nielson, smiling, said "Well, there you go. That sounds like a good idea."

Also Monday, the council took the first steps toward what's expected to become an ordinance restricting the use of golf carts within the town.

"I want to talk about golf carts, Rangers, Gators, Polarises or whatever you want to call them," said Lisa Strahle. "Last week, there was a golf cart with seven kids in it driving around after dark, and I almost hit them head on."

In another instance, Strahle said she was watching carefully and still nearly backed into a golf cart driven recklessly by children after dark.

David Heaton, who'd presented a golf cart ordinance to the prior town council, suggested the council restrict the carts to licensed drivers -- or, if kids are allowed to operate the carts, they must be accompanied by licensed adults.

Further, the marshal suggested requiring lights and the red-and-orange triangles required on tractors and other slow moving vehicles by the state.

Nielson, polling the opinion of the crowd, asked if anyone opposed the golf cart ordinance. None did. Several, however, supported it.

"That tells me all I need to know," he said.

The council session, marked by cooperation and laughter, marked a dramatic change from past meetings where dischord dominated, many present noted.

"I just want to thank you," Terri Heaton told the council. "This has been the most productive meeting I've been to all year. We got a lot accomplished, and we talked like human beings."

King concurred, adding "Amen."

Cornelius backed that notion, adding "Dugger needs to come back together, and make good things happen."

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Can someone cite the specific case Marshall Heaton is speaking of that makes it unlawful to enforce curfews?

I know other Police Agencies regularly enforce curfew violations as permitted by Indiana Law:


This law says 15 and older in by 11pm during the week and 1am on the weekend. Under 15 in by 11pm all week long. It also allows a local ordinance to modify this for up to two hours, if necessary. If there is a court ruling for this, it should be easy enough for Marshall Heaton to cite.

-- Posted by hmmph on Tue, Oct 2, 2012, at 2:08 AM

INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal judge has declared Indiana's curfew law unconstitutional, saying it is too restrictive and violates the First Amendment rights of minors.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tinder also ruled on July 3 that the city of Indianapolis' policy of subjecting minors who break curfew to breathalyzer and urine tests is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Both the curfew and the drug and alcohol testing policies were eliminated with the judge's signature on July 3.

"Because of this case, at least for a while, Indiana will not have a valid curfew law to enforce," Tinder wrote in his decision. "But this ruling should not be construed as an invitation to all Hoosier youth to run wild through the nights."

Beth White, deputy corporation counsel for the city of Indianapolis, said she was disappointed with the judge's decision and would consider appealing it to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

"We think (this decision) will have significant negative consequences," White said.

"Curfew laws in general are intended primarily to protect juveniles. It allows law enforcement to deter criminal activity by young people by detaining them and calling their parents to take them home."

Indiana's curfew statute made it illegal for a child under the age of 15 to be in a public place after 11 p.m. or before 5 a.m. on any day of the week. The rule for juveniles between the ages of 15 and 17 differed only on Saturdays and Sundays, when they were required to be in by 1 a.m. and not out before 5 a.m.

Though the statute had some flexibility for work, school events and religious activities, Tinder found that it did not allow for other important activities that take place after hours. "It is the constrictive narrowness of the permitted exceptions to the Indiana curfew law that is its downfall, not the fundamental effort to set reasonable hours for minors," Tinder wrote.

-- Posted by terri heaton on Thu, Oct 18, 2012, at 8:53 AM

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