Teens help move Douglas County toward uniform curfew

Posted 3/24/12

Douglas County is moving toward a uniform curfew for teenagers, thanks to an idea sparked by a group of students in 2010. Lone Tree’s council …

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Teens help move Douglas County toward uniform curfew


Douglas County is moving toward a uniform curfew for teenagers, thanks to an idea sparked by a group of students in 2010.

Lone Tree’s council members agreed during their March 20 meeting to change the city curfew to midnight to 5 a.m. every night of the week. That adds an hour to the original ordinance, which set the curfew at 11 p.m. on weeknights.

Douglas County also has an 11 p.m. weeknight curfew, but is moving toward a change to midnight. Likewise in Castle Rock, where the proposal is on the town’s March 27 council agenda.

The Douglas County commissioners have not yet voted on the time change, but sheriff’s office spokesperson Sgt. Ron Hanavan said the idea makes sense.

“Most teenagers probably don’t know or understand which jurisdiction they’re in,” he said. “In Castle Rock for instance, Douglas County High School is actually in our jurisdiction. But everything surrounding it is in the city. Having it uniform will make it less confusing and easier for people to understand.”

The change in law, which applies to those under the age of 18, is the first to come directly from the Youth Congress, an annual event held at the state Capitol.

During the one-day event, students work with legislators on policies and laws that impact teens. As they did with the curfew law, some students continue working on the issues well past that day.

With support from the Douglas County Youth Initiative, the students brought their request to the Partnership of Douglas County Governments, which is recommending it to the various jurisdictions.

The teens behind the proposal didn’t get everything they wanted. They’d also proposed a split curfew, which would set an earlier curfew for children under 14. Nevertheless, Mountain Vista High School junior Meredith Tolleson, who worked on the project, feels gratified.

“It makes me feel really good,” she said. “The curfew is something a lot of kids in Douglas County are worried about. A lot of them travel between two different districts in the county and worry they’ll be pulled over because of the curfew.”

Both Hanavan and Lone Tree police chief Steve Hasler said their officers often stop teens who are out past the curfew. The curfew gives them a valid reason to check in with them.

“There are good reasons to have curfew ordinances,” Hanavan said. “Ultimately, it’s for the health, welfare and safety of our students. It’s something we enforce, and that we take seriously.”

Lone Tree City Councilmember Jackie Millet, who works with the Youth Congress, hopes the change in the law is an inspiration to the kids who moved it to reality.

“The goal of the Douglas County Youth Initiative is to empower the youth in our communities,” she said. “I hope this sends a good message to the kids that their government wants to encourage them to participate. They do have a voice and they are listened to.”

But as the parent of a teen, Millet said the legal curfew isn’t the final authority in her house.

“My personal belief is, parents have the right to set the curfew,” she said. “I don’t want my children out until midnight on a school night, and not necessarily even on a weekend night. But from the city’s perspective, if they are out after midnight, I certainly want the officers to have the ability to go up to them and ask, ‘Where are you going? Do you need any help?’”

Like Douglas County, Castle Pines sets its curfew at 11 p.m. weeknights. City officials said they didn’t know if a change is pending.

Parker already has the midnight to 5 a.m. curfew throughout the week. Larkspur does not have a curfew ordinance.


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