Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

April 13, 2012

Police issue 24 warnings during April’s First Fridays

GOSHEN — Increased patrols and plenty of publicity seem to have made an impact on last week’s First Fridays event.

After months of growing concerns about teen troubles during the monthly event, Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman said conditions seemed to improve.

The popular festival has been troubled recently by large numbers of youths who have been clogging sidewalks and blocking store entrances. The issue had grown big enough that City Council is in the midst of considering two ordinances, one of which would establish a 9 p.m. curfew on the nights of First Fridays for youth 14 and younger.

Officials, though, were encouraged by what they saw last Friday.

Buffeted by the presence of 14 police officers and a few dozen additional volunteer “ambassadors,” the festival saw fewer problems, Kauffman said.

Police did issue 24 warnings for small infractions, including blocking the sidewalk and jaywalking. All of the warnings involved juveniles and letters were sent to parents of the juveniles as well, Kauffman said.

Kauffman said they found a state statute that prohibits blocking sidewalks as a basis for some of the warnings.

Part of the improved circumstances stemmed from a lack of activities for young people, Kauffman said.

Unlike past First Fridays, last week’s event did not include a dance for teens.

Instead, the Boys & Girls Club of Goshen hosted a dance and other activities at its Crescent Street location.

Unfortunately, the dance only attracted about 50 people and will not be attempted again in the future, Kauffman said.

Efforts to pass the two proposed ordinances, though, will go forward, he said.

Council members will meet Tuesday and both ordinances will be considered for final approval.

The proposed curfew is limited to the downtown business district and could face some opposition or efforts to revise it when the debate continues Tuesday.

Under the proposals, violating either the pedestrian sidewalk ordinance or the curfew could result in a fine of up to $500. Originally, the proposed fine was $2,500, but was reduced last month by council after people at the meeting and council members expressed concern that it was excessive.

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