A small group of 15-yearolds were sitting on a bench outside the Wallace Theaters in Gilbert last week. It was 10:05 p.m. — five minutes past curfew.
The five Mesquite High School students, who had recently finished watching a movie, avoided a citation warning this time from a sheriff’s deputy hired by Gilbert Town Square.
But that’s not always the case outside the town’s only multiplex southwest of Gilbert and Warner roads.
"They threaten to cite us, but they never do," said Danny Simental, 15.
The curfew is 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for children younger than 16 and midnight to 5 a.m. for 16- and 17-year-olds unless supervised by an adult or "with prior permission . . . is engaged in reasonable, legitimate and specific business and/or activity," the latter leaving room for interpretation.
Gilbert Police Chief John Brewer said his department is not actively looking for curfew violators and citations are rare.
"It depends on the situation and what we see out there," Brewer said. "And it’s not just that we suspect the kids are up to something, they could be victimized by older kids."
"When there are kids out at 3 a.m., police need a reason to stop them," Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman said. "But like a speeding ticket, police need to use some judgment."
Berman is referring to a situation reported to town and police officials by Teri Kilgore, whose 14-year-old daughter was threatened with a curfew citation shortly after 10 p.m. one night by the deputy outside Wallace Theaters. Kilgore picked her up a few minutes later.
"Kids unsupervised walking the streets is the real issue, not kids waiting to be picked up after a movie," Kilgore said.
"And if a deputy is constantly threatening but never doing, that won’t solve the problem either," he said.
Mike Clements, vice president of development for Gilbert Town Square, defended the deputy’s actions.
"Our position is that we first and foremost abide by the town ordinances and codes, and second we don’t ask the Gilbert Police Department or Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Office or other agency to enforce the law selectively or to look the other way," Clements said.
Clements noted that the movie times are structured so that the fourth showing of the day ends no later than 9:45 p.m., providing a window for parents to pick up their children.
Curfew supporter Johnna Leach picked up the five Mesquite High School students last week.
"If you know what time the show is, you know what time they’ll get out," Leach said. "There’s no harm in sitting here waiting."