Tick Tock, keep an eye on the clock

Returning either late in the evening or in the early hours of the morning to Langdon, the streets are empty and rarely is there a soul to be found. In fact, as many Langdonites may know, the Rocky View Curfew Bylaw is in effect between 12:01 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. 

Curfew brings back childhood memories of our parents imposing specific times we were required to be home and the cut off time that we could no longer go out and play. Whether it was home by supper, dusk, bedtime, or when the street lights came on, we all were cautious to keep an eye on the clock. 

The definition of curfew is an official regulation setting restrictions on movement and imposing a requirement, for certain people or all people, to leave the streets and be in their homes by a prescribed hour. 

One of the earliest uses of a curfew law was by William the Conqueror, the King of England between 1066-1087. The King’s curfew bylaw was imposed on all citizens and decreed that all candlelight and fires be extinguished by 8:00 p.m. every evening. This bylaw was put in place to prevent rebellious meetings. Today, we can classify curfew laws into three broad categories: Emergency Curfews, Business Curfews, and Juvenile Curfews. 

The main differences between these three categories is why the curfew is imposed and on whom. Emergency Curfews, in general, are used during times of crisis, catastrophe, or disaster, such as: blizzards, wildfires, or public riots. Business Curfews are imposed upon commercial enterprises, such as: grocery stores, restaurants, and liquor stores that are located in areas experiencing high levels of crime, loitering, and disorderly conduct. Juvenile Curfews are imposed upon minors and their parents or their guardians and are used to prevent criminal activity. 

To “assist [Langdon] parents and guardians in exercising authority over [their minors]

for public safety” , Rocky View County passed municipal Bylaw No. C–5773-2003 the Curfew Bylaw. Under the Curfew Bylaw, the county decrees that no minor (a person under the age of 18 years old) shall be in a public place within corporate limits between 12:01 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. without the being accompanied by an adult or without a legitimate excuse. Furthermore, the County decrees that “any parent or guardian who knowingly permits or by insufficient lawful control”, allows a minor to remain in a public place within the curfew hours is in violation of the Curfew Bylaw and is subject to a minimum penalty of $100 for the first occurrence and $200 for a second violation within one year. 

The Curfew Bylaw neatly fits into the category of Juvenile Curfew laws, however, the bylaw’s fit may be too perfect. The Curfew Bylaw, Rocky View’s only curfew law, only applies to the corporate limits in the Hamlet of Langdon. To put this more into perspective, this bylaw is only applicable in approximately 2 square kilometres out of the nearly 4000 square kilometres in Rocky View County. 

In addtion to being confined to a very small geographical area, the Curfew Bylaw also is confined to a very small cohort of people. The Curfew Bylaw only applies to unaccompanied minors who do not have a legitimate reason to be within the corporate limits of the hamlet of Langdon between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Based on 2006 census data, Langdon and the surrounding area had a total population of approximately 4,189 people, of which 67% were over the age of 19 and 33% (1390 people) were 19 years and younger. A more detailed breakdown of the 1390 people indicate the following population distribution: (0-4yrs) 355, (5- 9yrs) 405, (10-14yrs) 365, (15-19yrs) 255. 

Many would agree, it is safe to assume that many Langdon children between the ages of 0-14 are not out loitering and engaging in disorderly conduct between the hours of 12:01 a.m and 6:00 a.m in the corporate limits of Langdon. Based on this assumption, the only the cohort targeted by this bylaw for their possible rioting, loitering, or engagement in disorderly

conduct would be the 15-19 year olds. The municipal Curfew Bylaw only applies to minors, so once all the 18 and 19 year olds are excluded, only the 15-17 year old Langdonites remain. In other words, the total targeted population is approximately 50 to 60 Langdon children out of the 2000 or so 15-17 year olds living in Rocky View. 

While it may be plausible that some of those 50-60 Langdon children are rambunctious and misguided, it is certainly a stretch to envision roving gangs of hooligans wandering the streets of Langdon between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Furthermore, it is not plausible to believe that any official regulation decreed by the governing body is going to convince a rambunctious and misguided hooligan to refrain from engaging in criminal activity. 

While Langdonites may disagree amongst themselves whether to have or not to have a curfew law, they may find common ground when it comes to the government providing “assistance” for Langdonites in “exercising authority over” their minors. Perhaps a more effective way to address the criminal activity in Langdon and its surrounding area is to look at a policing solution. 

One starting point may be to review the current Curfew Bylaw. With most County bylaws, enforcement of those bylaws are the responsibility of peace officers. A peace officer, as defined in the Curfew Bylaw, means any RCMP member or Special Constable (employed by Rocky View) appointed under the authority of “Section 42” of the Police Act. While the RCMP and their authority is clearly defined, the Rocky View Special Constable appointment under “Section 42” of the Police Act is not. “Section 42” of the Police Act deals with the complaints against and the discipline of police officers and really has nothing to do with appointment. 

Regardless of the ambiguity in the Curfew Bylaw surrounding how the complaints and discipline section applies to the appointment of Special Constables, Section 4 of the Police Act is quite clear. Section 4 decrees that every Hamlet with a population under 5000 receives general policing services provided by the provincial police service at no direct cost. However, once that Hamlet attains a population greater than 5000, the municipality shall assume the

responsibility for providing its own policing services (by no later than April 1 in the second year following when the determination was made that the population is greater than 5000). On February 8, 2012 Statistics Canada will release the 2011 census data, and we will learn the current population of Langdon. In the meanwhile, based on Rocky View County’s average population growth rate of 4.5% per year and the 2006 Census data, it is reasonable to expect that the population of Langdon is greater than 5,000 people. Once this determination is made, Rocky View will need to provide a more comprehensive action plan to address the issue of public safety in Langdon other than providing assistance to Langdon “…parents and guardians in exercising authority over” their children.

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