fireworks
Detroit City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an emergency curfew for unsupervised minors during the city’s annual fireworks display near Hart Plaza planned for Monday. (Shutterstock)

Detroit City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a special curfew to prevent minors from roaming unsupervised after 8 p.m. in the area surrounding the city’s annual fireworks show next week.

Detroit’s Police Department sought the emergency ordinance amendment in response to “numerous incidents of harassment, nuisance, vandalism and violence” around the Independence Day holiday display, it reads. Council members weighed concerns over the policing of minors during several weeks of discussion, but ultimately agreed on a limited curfew to ensure the June 27 event runs smoothly.

The curfew goes into effect immediately but is only active June 27 between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. June 28. Youth under 17 years old and their adult caregivers could be ticketed if they are out past the curfew. The fireworks at Hart Plaza downtown are scheduled to begin at 9:56 p.m. 

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Unaccompanied minors are not allowed in a specific zone bounded by the Detroit River, Third Street, the Lodge Freeway and Fisher Freeway as well as the extension of the Fisher Freeway east to Gratiot Avenue, Gratiot Avenue, Vernor Highway, Chene Street, Atwater Street and the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater.

The curfew doesn’t apply to minors who are accompanied by their legal guardian or caretaker. The ordinance also makes exceptions for minors who are sent on errands by their parents, so long as they carry written permission.

Failure to comply with the curfew could result in a fine. Teens over age 17 could face a misdemeanor in 36th District Court for violating the curfew. Adult caretakers could also be ticketed for allowing minors to roam without supervision. 

Earlier this year, the council approved a $1.3 million contract for full-body scanners for use at community events and other outdoor gatherings. Police officials said the devices will be in use at the Monday fireworks show. The scanners are purported to quickly scan large crowds at community events for firearms and other weapons. 

Detroit Police Department Deputy Chief Franklin Hayes described the temporary curfew as “nothing new” for the city during a Monday public hearing on the ordinance amendment. 

Unsupervised minors under 18 are already not allowed in public areas after certain times under Detroit’s Code of Ordinances. However, the emergency ordinance notes that Detroit’s regular curfew hours are not sufficient to “alleviate and curtail criminal activity involving unsupervised minors.”

Hayes has said although ticketing has been on the table in past years, the enforcement has been used “very sparingly.” Hayes said police wrote two curfew tickets and two parental responsibility tickets in 2017. The next year, he said there were four curfew tickets and three parental responsibility tickets. In 2019, prior to the suspension of in-person shows tied to COVID-19, there were five curfew and five parental tickets issued. 

The ordinance, Hayes said, is meant to provide “an extra layer of parental responsibility and accountability for our young Detroiters.”

“This is just a tool. This is not something we would use as a dragnet so to speak to arrest or detain minors,” Hayes said Monday during the council’s Public Health and Safety committee. “What we’re looking for is a family member, a parent or a responsible adult to ensure safety and be able to give that immediate direction and oversight while they enjoy the fireworks.”

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