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Differing legal interpretations of the city’s curfew law, parents of a Wapakoneta teen say, should prompt Wapakoneta City Council members to review the document.
Tammy Hegemier and Kurt Hegemier addressed councilors at Monday’s meeting to discuss clarifying the city’s curfew law to avoid further problems in the future. They said their son was cited for a curfew violation after their teenage son and his adult brother went out for breakfast early in the morning on New Year’s Day and the adult son had to leave on an emergency — leaving the teenage son at the restaurant.
“We would like everyone to read it over and try to interpret it for us because between the police chief, the attorney we hired, the city law director, the assistant prosecuting attorney and Judge Mark Spees — nobody knows what it means,” Tammy Hegemier told councilors.
Kurt Hegemier said the law as written could be interpreted differently by different people.
The city curfew law was last amended in 1974. The curfew law restricts youth under the age of 18 from being on the street or loitering Sunday through Thursday between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. and on Friday and Saturday between midnight and 6 a.m.
The offense is a minor misdemeanor.
In his interpretation, Kurt Hegemier said the law stipulates a youth must be with a parent and cannot be out after curfew with an adult sibling, grandparent or other adult.
While teens can be out after curfew if they are going to or going home from a job, they could be in violation when they go to morning sports workouts, Tammy Hegemier said.
“There are a lot of youth this is going to affect,” Tammy Hegemier said, citing football weightlifting starts at 6 a.m.
Kurt Hegemier said he is not against the curfew law, but he believes the law needs to be reviewed and updated to clear the grey area.
Council President Steve Henderson assigned the review to the Health and Safety Committee, chaired by Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr.
Finkelmeier told the Hegemiers he would not provide a personal response to the legislation and could not, without further review and consultation with legal experts, provide a profession response.
He did agree the law needed review.
“We are always happy to review any part of the city’s legislation to review its pertinents to today’s condition,” Finkelmeier told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “It is my understanding that our version is a version of the state’s curfew law and then I will draw on other peer communities in west-central Ohio to see what ordinances they have.
“My intent is not to rewrite the ordinance but to clarify the city’s intent if necessary,” he said.
He intends to schedule a Health and Safety Committee meeting in the near future to consider the Hegemiers’ request for a review.