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Update: Portsmouth approves new curfew law for 17-year-olds

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Aug 14, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-14 19:20:05-04

Update: The new law has been approved. 

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It's good to be a 17-year-old in Portsmouth these days, with no curfew in place to tell you when to head home for the night. But civic league presidents like Bill Watts want to change that by raising the curfew age, which stands at 16 right now.

“Several of the civic leagues had been experiencing car break-ins, and it was the younger kids who were doing these types of things,” said Watts, the president of the Park Manor Civic League. "This is the only logical conclusion you can come to for keeping these kids off the streets and to make our streets safer for our citizens.”

The request came at a Police Chief's Forum last year, and after months of tweaking, the new ordinance will be voted on by the City Council Monday.

If passed, everyone under 18 living in the City of Portsmouth will have to be at home by 11pm.

“If they are 17 or under and out late, then police can take them home, and it will probably stop a crime,” said Watts.

Still, some in Portsmouth say the City Council needs to do more than just pass this ordinance to deal with crime.

“It will probably slow it down, but it won’t stop it,” said Ellen Tomiye, the head of the soon-to-be non-profit “Peace for Portsmouth."

Even though she supports the ordinance, Tomiye says more of the city's energy needs to be directed at providing free programs for teenagers.

“The same civic leaders that talked to you, they need to open up their recreation centers in their neighborhoods, and offer more for these kids to get them off the streets,” said Tomiye. “You stop it before it starts. They already have the solution for when they get in trouble, but how about stopping them from getting in trouble?”

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. to vote on the change to the ordinance.

If it is passed, the new curfew laws will go into effect immediately.

Here is how Portsmouth stacks up against other local Hampton Roads Cities.

-Norfolk/Virginia Beach- 11PM under 18

-Hampton-12 AM under 18

-Suffolk -11PM under 16, 12 AM 16-18

-Newport News-10PM under 14, 12 AM 14-18

-Chesapeake-11PM under 16, 12:30 AM under 18