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Pueblo Police increasing curfew enforcement for minors and people in parks

Posted at 5:50 AM, Aug 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-11 07:50:20-04

PUEBLO — Pueblo Police is increasing curfew enforcement for minors and people in parks after hours

The Pueblo Police Department (PPD) is working with the Park and Recreation Department to increase enforcement of the park curfew and the city curfew for minors.

The curfew for parks in Pueblo is from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. If someone is in a park after 10:00 p.m. they are violating the park's curfew. The city also has a curfew for minors.

People under the age of 18 can not be out past 10:00 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. The curfew changes on Fridays and Saturday nights, kids can stay out till 12:00 a.m.

PPD said this does not apply to kids who have jobs and are headed home from work.

PPD is increasing enforcement because juvenile violence in the city is rising.

This also comes after a young boy was shot and killed late last month at the Sergeant Blake Harris Skateboard Park, located in City Park. Police hope that increasing enforcement of the curfew for minors will help.

Frank Ortega, a Sergeant with PPD, said increasing curfew enforcement is for people's safety.

"Our goal is to reduce the opportunities for kids to be victims and for kids to be suspects," said Ortega.

More kids are getting into trouble, according to Ortega.

"We saw an increase in juvenile crime over the summer, and we always see that it's just a little more pronounced this summer than previous summers," said Ortega.

It is a trend that Ortega said has been growing in the past couple of years.

"So from 2019 to 2022 we have a 28% increase in juvenile crime," said Ortega.

PPD wants to stop this trend and try to minimize violence and law-breaking, especially among minors.

Patrick Fleming is the Park Ranger Program Coordinator in Pueblo. He said the Pueblo Parks and Recreation Department has also seen more illegal activity in parks after hours.

"I think there's more violence now, there's more crime happening after hours and so basically this is a reaction that we have to to try to curb as best we can with criminal activity. It's happening. It's not just the kids, it's people using drugs, homelessness, and a lot of variables in our society that come in the parks," said Fleming.

PPD is short-staffed, but The Parks Department is willing to help.

"We are partnering up with the Pueblo PD in reference to extra patrols during the evening hours, and nighttime hours trying to curb criminal activity," said Fleming.

He said the parks department and PPD have a great working relationship that has allowed this increase in patrolling the parks to happen.

Park rangers will work in teams of two when patrolling the parks after hours.

"It's pretty dark in the parks. So we have a lighting system on the truck so we can use them and we have a PA system so we can talk to people. Where are unarmed, so it's pretty serious as far as safety-wise," said Fleming.

Park Rangers will call over the PA system to tell people to leave the park. They will call the police if people refuse to leave the park. Park Rangers do not hand out citations, the police do.

Ortega said increasing enforcement can mean a lot of different things, but it is up to the officers and park rangers to use their own discretion. The number of hours and people patrolling the parks is increasing.

"They might do more citations, they might just look at it as more of an educational opportunity to engage with the kids. If they contact the adults, they contact the parks and explain the law," said Ortega.

He said every situation is different.

"A lot of times, people expect us just to give tickets right away and [in] some instances that's the best approach, and most instances are to contact that person and explain the law. But sometimes a citation is a better reminder than somebody verbally telling you not to be here," said Ortega.

He made it clear that officers and park rangers will decide whether to write a ticket or ask people to leave.

The first time someone receives a ticket for violating a park's curfew, it will cost $150. A second violation is a $300 ticket. A third violation will be a mandatory court appearance.

If minors violate the city curfew they will have a mandatory court appearance. The judge will decide whether or not to give them a fine or community service.

PPD will have a specific team dedicated to patrolling parks and enforcing the curfew. Those officers and park rangers who are adding to the patrols will receive overtime pay.

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