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O.C. curfew sweep targets teens

November 13, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Orange County is cracking down on curfew violators and looking for unsupervised children 17 and younger.Hundreds of law enforcement officers from about 20 agencies worked into the early morning hours Friday rounding up young people in the first countywide curfew sweep.

The officers started patrolling at 10 p.m. Thursday, the curfew in most cities. They brought violators back to command posts and called their parents while prosecutors and probation officials processed them.

Across the county, police picked up more than 65 teens breaking curfew.

Command posts were set up in Anaheim, Aliso Viejo and Orange.

First time offenders face community service. Many who were brought to the command posts were released with a warning, but were made aware that subsequent incidents will lead to arrests.

The program was established about a year and a half ago to reduce truancy and boost scholastic performance. Officials say some students were having trouble learning because they were staying out too late.

The campaign is also an intervention program aimed at trying to prevent minors from getting involved in gangs.

"Not only can they get wrapped up in criminal activity, they can become victims," said Orange Police Sgt. Derek Cook.

Authorities say that since the curfew began, they've found children as young as 8 years old out late at night without supervision.

"If they're out late at night, chances are very high that they're involved with gang members and gang activity," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.

The danger is clear. Thursday night, police found a handgun connected with a fight involving rival gang members. A teenager ended up in the hospital with stab wounds, and residents' vehicles were damaged by stray bullets. Nearby, officers also arrested three teenagers, all suspected to be gang-affiliated and one on probation with a weapons violation.

CNS contributed to this report.


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