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Police participate in countywide curfew sweep

May 10, 2013|By Lauren Williams

About 11 p.m. Thursday, Costa Mesa police Sgt. Pat Wessel and Officer Jason Chamness eyed two teens skateboarding down the alley that borders the Placentia Avenue fire station on the Westside.

As the officers pulled up, the smell of pot emanated from the area, indicating the teens may have been getting into trouble. Police found a blue, prescription-style bottle containing marijuana in one of the youth's backpacks. They also learned one of the skaters was 17 and out past curfew.

Officer David Sevilla phoned the boy's mom, notifying her of the location where she could pick up her son, before taking him to a drop-off point in Orange.

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As the cities slept, the Costa Mesa and Newport Beach police departments patrolled for unsupervised minors as part of a countywide effort to enforce curfews, reduce exposure to gangs and prevent minors from committing crimes or becoming victims.

The CMPD and NBPD were among 19 agencies that participated in the fifth-annual curfew enforcement program spearheaded by the Orange County district attorney's office. More than 180 officers took part in the effort, which

netted 29 curfew violators countywide, according to the district attorney's office.

The sweep, coming just before summer when more children will have free time on weeknights and warmer temperatures will draw them outdoors, served as a warning of sorts that police intend to crack down on delinquency.

The primary aim of the sweep was to educate parents about the curfew — 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the Newport-Mesa area — by making them go to an Orange County Sheriff's Department training facility, where they were able to retrieve errant children, meet with representatives from the district attorney's office and watch an educational video.

Keeping kids from gangs and also keeping gang members who are minors off the streets were primary goals of the program, police said. Costa Mesa is home to about 200 active gang members.

For that reason, officers patrolled Mendoza and Mission drives and large swaths of the city where gang members congregate. Evident on the patrol was new tagging, where swirling letters announced "East Side clan" behind a shoe warehouse.

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