Okla. City cops catch flak for mistaken teen curfew arrests
The teens were arrested Saturday outside a movie theater in the Bricktown entertainment district. Some parents say the arrests came 20 minutes before the 11 p.m. curfew for those younger than 18, that some were arrested while waiting for parents to pick them up after the movie, and that they had to wait up to six hours to take their children home.
The city's curfew ordinance makes exceptions, including for those who attend a movie and are awaiting an adult for a ride home. Police Chief Bill Citty told The Oklahoman that the incident is under investigation.
Valenthia Doolin, of Oklahoma City, said she arrived to pick up her children at 10:40 p.m. and found a line of police cars and vans and her children were not answering their cellphones.
She said she eventually received a text message from her son saying they had been picked up on a curfew violation.
Doolin said officers refused to listen when they pointed out her car and said their ride was there minutes before the curfew began.
"We felt violated, harassed and frightened at the hands of Oklahoma City law enforcement," Doolin said. "Something has to be done to ensure that it never happens again."
Peggy Hammons said she, her 15-year-old daughter and her daughter's friend attended a movie that let out just before 11 p.m. and the two girls waited in front of the theater while Hammons got the car.
"A female police officer approached them, instructed them to hand over their cellphones and get over and get in that paddy wagon," Hammons said.
"They tried to explain to the police officers, and they were told to shut up and be quiet."
Citty, the police chief, said police are investigating their handling of the situation to see what went wrong.
"The ordinance does provide for legitimate reasons for someone who is underage to be out past 11 p.m.," Citty said. "If they can show they were attending the theater and are waiting for a ride to be picked up, the arrest of that juvenile would not be appropriate."
He said at least two of the citations issued Saturday have been dismissed because they shouldn't have been issued to begin with and that others could also be thrown out.
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