North End group seeks new youth curfew

Posted: September 10, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Residents in the city’s north end say they have been plagued by juvenile problems and are looking for solutions.

Several people spoke Monday night at a North End Citizens Association meeting at Douglas Community Learning Center on North Kent Street about possible curfew changes to curb ongoing issues with youngsters in the neighborhood.

“There have been problems in the neighborhood with young ones causing havoc, especially with neighbors,” Winchester police Chief Kevin Sanzenbacher acknowledged. “We’re really going to crack down.”

Sanzenbacher said that while there haven’t been any major concerns, there have been a lot of problems and complaints regarding juveniles.

The havoc being created by a handful of juveniles ranges from starting minor fires to harassing elderly residents.

“We are going to start aggressively enforcing the current law,” Sanzenbacher said of juvenile curfews.

He added that the police department is also looking for ways to hold parents accountable for the actions of their children.

City ordinances currently state that any child under the age of 15 must be off the streets, out of parks and out of public places Sunday through Thursday from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from midnight to 5 a.m.

“We at the Neighborhood Watch think this is really young,” said North End Citizens Association President Maggie Lee, 59.

She said she would like the curfew extended to teens 17 or 18 years old. She added that there is a plan to go to City Council with the request.

Gwen Borders-Walker, 60, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), encouraged neighborhood residents to keep calling police and complaining.

“I think people who live in this community should go to City Council meetings,” she said. “Our community should not be like that, that you’re afraid.”

Elyus Wallace, 32, of Winchester, said he used to be one of those juveniles causing problems around the same neighborhood.

“I used to break the plants, I used to run from the cops,” he said.

He speculated that youths in the area have nothing better to do than get in trouble.

“We’ve got to find a program for these juveniles,” he said. “The reason this neighborhood changed, the reason I changed is because people took the time to care.”

People at the meeting agreed and said they would try and come up with a program or solution to help.

The next North End Citizens Association meeting is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 2. The next North End Neighborhood Watch Meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday at Highland Church at 446 Highland Ave.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com