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Gordon Ramsay: Make it a safe summer, Duluth

In the summer months we see an increase in police calls, neighborhood disturbances and crime. With the warmer weather, more people are outside plus windows and doors are left open in cars and homes, which can result in thefts and burglaries.

In the summer months we see an increase in police calls, neighborhood disturbances and crime. With the warmer weather, more people are outside plus windows and doors are left open in cars and homes, which can result in thefts and burglaries.

We continue to see too many thefts from cars. This crime is 100 percent preventable: Don't leave any valuables in your car.

Every week I read about checkbooks, purses, wallets and other valuables that have been stolen from cars. Most of our citizens are good people and would not steal or harm anyone, but there is a small percentage of individuals that preys upon trusting Northlanders.

These predators are on constant lookout for goods and victims. They walk down the street and, rather than looking at the scenery, they are looking for goods in cars or valuable items (such as bikes) that are left unlocked and unattended. The list of targets is long.

These predators are everywhere, operating in both rural and urban areas.

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Remember this and report suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Help prevent crime in your neighborhood by starting a citizen patrol group or neighborhood watch. The police can't prevent and solve crime without your help.

In response to the increased problems we face during the summer, we adjust our staffing and focus on the busier areas. The police department implemented its summer staffing plan in June.

Two new, year-round foot officers have been assigned to downtown, and five school-resource officers will patrol downtown, Canal Park and Park Point on bikes this summer.

Additionally, our Street Crimes unit is focusing more on street-level problems in our hotspot areas. Plain-clothes investigators are participating in saturations and undercover operations throughout the city.

In other department news, thanks to the neighborhood groups and city councilors who supported the changes to our curfew ordinance. The new ordinance creates a curfew of midnight for 16- and 17-year-olds and 11 p.m. for those 15 and younger. (Previously only the latter was in effect.)

This will help us address some of the issues we face and "levels the playing field" in reference to giving us similar curfew times as other cities near us.

Here are some common questions and answers related to the new curfew:

Why was the curfew ordinance change requested?

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For the safety, health and protection of our youth. Juveniles are more often the victims of crime than any other age group.

Youth commit a disproportionate amount of crime -- particularly during the hours of darkness.

The Duluth Police Department responds to tens of thousands of car prowls, vandalism events and disturbances a year, which are often perpetrated by juveniles.

The curfew change is a needed key element in our crime-reduction strategy.

Would the new ordinance prevent a juvenile from holding a job or attending a school or church event that extended beyond the curfew time?

The ordinance allows for youth to attend legitimate business as directed by his or her parent. That would allow for school or church events and employment that extend beyond the curfew time.

The ordinance prohibits loitering, wandering, strolling or playing in public streets, public grounds, public places, public buildings, places of amusement and entertainment, vacant lots and other unsupervised places unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or is on legitimate business as directed by a parent, guardian or other adult having the care and custody of the juvenile.

What do other cities have as curfews?

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Superior: 9:30 or 10:30 p.m. for 15 and younger, 10:30 and 11:30 p.m. for 16- and 17-year-olds (times are dependent on time of year);

Proctor: 10 p.m. for 16 and younger;

St. Paul: 10 p.m. for 15 and younger, midnight for 16- and 17-year-olds.

(Note: This language was adopted from a best-practice study conducted by members of the DPD and the city attorney's staff.)

Contact Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay at 730-5020 or gramsay@ci.duluth.mn.us .

Related Topics: DULUTH POLICE DEPARTMENT
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