A sign displaying curfew times for minors is on display along OH-122 entering Madison Township. Middletown police recently reminded people via Facebook about the city’s curfew for juveniles, which has been on the books for years. Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said in recent years it has been enforced and admitted it is a rather old-fashion law, but a jump in juvenile arrests going into the summer and what officers are seeing on the street means the curfew laws will have more teeth this year. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

City curfews again at issue after teen violence in Cincinnati, Butler County

The Cincinnati Police Department has increased curfew sweeps after two 14-year-old boys were shot dead within weeks of one another.

A 14-year-old boy was shot in Over-the-Rhine on June 30. On July 6, another 14-year-old was killed by gunfire Lower Price Hill, according to WCPO, our media partners. Both homicide occurred during late night hours or early morning.

Now, police and city leaders are talking about how patrols can be increased.

MORE: Teen charged with Hamilton 19-year-old’s murder has been incarcerated 3 times before

Last month, Hamilton police reminded residents on Facebook about the city’s curfew law and underlined that they intend to enforce that law this summer. Middletown also has a curfew law and encourages officers on regular patrol to enforce it.

Other municipalities and townships in Butler County also have long-standing curfews, including the cities of Fairfield and Monroe and the townships of Liberty, Hanover, Madison and Ross.

In Hamilton, the curfew law was passed in 1975. The curfew for minors is 10 p.m. until 6 a.m Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, the curfew is in effect from 11:30 p.m. until 6 a.m.

Butler County has seen its own teen violence in recent weeks. A 17-year-old arrested last week and charged with murder for the shooting death of Shon Walker in June had been incarcerated three previous times dating back to 2015, including once in December for a curfew violation, according to Butler County Juvenile Court records.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said what many in Cincinnati have pointed out. Curfews are a tool for law enforcment, but they can’t take the place of parental responsibility, he said.

MORE: Fatal shooting in Middleown: Teen suspect’s criminal past includes gun charges

“Keeping children off the street and keeping them safe, that is the responsibility of the parents to know where there kids are and holding them accountable. Certainly we are willing and we are playing a role in this, but we don’t have the resources to monitor the whereabouts of every teenager in town,” Bucheit said.

“If these kids are being unruly it is easier for them to contact us and say, ‘I have set a curfew and the child is not complying.’ Then we can assist them with filing unruly charges through juvenile court.”

But Bucheit added that neither law enforcement nor the court system can take over responsible parenting.

“The court and law enforcement system is not designed to take over parenting. It’s frustrating when there are families who are not holding up their part of the equation,” he said.

In the past five years, 141 juveniles have been charged with curfew violation in Hamilton.

Middetown also has a long-standing curfew. In the 1990s and early 2000s, both cities had roundups of curfew violators, but staffing issues and some changing philosophy has stopped those practices in recent years.

Curfew hours in Middletown are 11 p.m. through 6 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday and 12:01 a.m. through 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday for those younger than 16. For those 16 or 17, hours are 2:01 a.m. until 6 a.m. on Monday through Friday and 1 a.m. until 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

So far this summer, there have been no citations issued for a curfew violation in Middleown, according to Middletown Maj. David Birk.

MORE: Middletown teen received maximum sentence for murder conviction

“It’s not used a whole bunch,” Birk said. “Usually officers find them violating other laws.”

In 2018, 67 juveniles were cited into juvenile court from various areas of the court, according to Rob Clevenger, juvenile court administrator.

If juveniles are adjudicated for the unruly/curfew offense, they can be placed on court monitoring that can include house arrest and community service as well as a monetary sanction, Clevenger said.

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