The Sound of a False Claim About the Curfew Siren's Effectiveness

A federal lawsuit filed against the City of Ludington in order to silence the Copeyon Park siren that goes off at noon and curfew time (10 PM) makes a variety of claims in regard to the use and effectiveness of the siren, among these are a blanket claim that the siren serves no use, which it explains further in a footnote:

The claim that curfew violations did not increase after the siren was discontinued was an interesting thesis, if true, but the lawsuit doesn't purport to prove that claim and rather states it as a fact. 

But is it?  The Ludington Police Department has provided annual reports regarding most offenses, but curfew violations/warnings are not part of those statistics.  So how exactly did the plaintiff or their attorneys know that as a fact? 

I asked the LPD for some public records through a FOIA request, effectively the police reports associated with curfew violations/warnings issued over the last six years in the city limits or for any other record that was in their possession showing these offenses over that time.  They had no compilation, and it took them a while to assemble the reports, so it is highly unlikely that they have previously done this task for the plaintiffs or their attorney. 

Let's let the data do the talking.  The Siren was turned off Tuesday, April 30, 2019, and turned back on August 10, 2021 or approximately 2 years and 100 days.  If we go back 2 years and 100 days before April 30 2019, we get to January 19th, 2017.  Let's count the number of curfew violations in that period, by looking at the curfew warnings/violations issued over the period between 1-19-2017 and 4-30-2019.  I will show the heading of the reports; the reports themselves make some interesting reading at times, if you have kids maybe one of these instances dealt with them:

The reports with two (or more) yellow marks next to the curfew violation, mean that two (or more) minors were caught being out after curfew.  In the last two years and 100 days of the curfew siren at the peak of the old fire station there were fourteen minors warned/cited in ten incidents.

Now let's count the same stats for the period of 4-30-2019 to 8-10-2021, that is, the period of time when there was no curfew siren over the same amount of days:

In this period, there were 22 curfew warnings/citations to minors over eleven incidents.  Over the two time periods, there wasn't any change in city policy in regard to curfews, but the amount of minors being warned/ticketed for curfew violations rocketed from 14 to 22, a 57% increase of curfew violations that emerged once the curfew siren was taken away along with a modest 10% rise in the amount of incidents.  Another telling statistic is that in the 8 months plus that the siren has been active since August 2021, there has been zero curfew violations.

Does this prove that the 10 PM curfew siren works to keep minors from violating curfew?  Not in the scientific sense, there may be other variables that come into play, but it does show that it seems to have some effect from these statistics.

More importantly, however, it shows that the plaintiffs' attorney in this matter has made an unsupported, unsubstantiated, and false claim in his lawsuit, when he had every opportunity to verify his assertions--like this simple reporter did with this refutation.

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That's what I like about your reporting, X. Unbiased, even if you have been against the city in other issues, you present honest facts... Maybe biased if you like the curfew whistle, but truthful because you checked, got the FOIAs and don't believe an attorney's claim without substantiated, unrefuttable, black and white facts.

I hope the City of Ludington management comes to appreciate your honest, mathematical and factual abilities and use them to their benefit in a position, which could serve also the taxpayer.

I simply have to compliment you again X, just like FS said, thorough report, and factual on this curfew issue, unlike the plaintiff's attorney. Keep up the great reporting, very interesting stuff.

Poorly written laws are the defense attorney's playground.  I must agree with your points made on the city's curfew law, there is a lot of wriggle room for the romper room crowd who find themselves out after curfew.  

Thanks all for the compliments on my objectivity when reporting.  I must admit a little bit of a pro-siren bias since polls show around 4 of 5 locals favor the siren, nobody publicly objected to the council when they were discussing re-installing it, and I can point to my own experiences over the last three decades where the noon and curfew siren served a useful purpose as a passive notifier of what time it was.

Regardless, had the FOIA request went the other way (i.e. that there was a 57% decrease in curfew violations after the siren was disconnected) I would have even-more-eagerly reported on that unexpected result and would have attempted to better understand the mechanics behind that.  

I also understand that many of the violations occurred well after 10 PM, when the siren's potential influence could be minimized since the youths should have been well aware they were out too late.  Even then, however, it provides a tool for police and parents who can ask the question:  "You didn't hear the curfew siren go off four hours ago and know that you shouldn't be out on the streets?"

For some reason my comments do not appear regarding this topic so I will try to repost and see if it will not disappear this time. I posted the message below last night.

I agree. I would believe X over any city official not only because he does the research but he doesn't skew the information. He just presents the information for discussion and scrutiny. On this issue I have a differing opinion. I'll state my case. According the the City ordinance, "No minor under the age of 14 years shall loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, public buildings, etc., between the hours of 10:00 p.m., and 6:00 a.m. of the following day. No minor between the age of 14 years and under the age of 17 years shall loiter, idle, wander, stroll or play in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, public buildings, places of amusement and entertainment, vacant lots or other unsupervised places between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. "

I have a few problems with this ordinance. As I read it, children 13 years and younger must obey the curfew time beginning at 10 pm. and children who are 15 and 16 years old must obey the curfew time starting at 12 am. It seems to me that the ordinance does not include 14 year olds. The ordinance does not state that these children cannot be on the sidewalks between 10pm and 6am. The ordinance should have left out all the possible location and just stated only that the children must be under adult supervision during the hours of curfew. Also, as I read it, a child is not excluded from being out and running, jogging or even skipping. Wander and stroll have a different meaning. The curfew ordinance needs to be cleaned up if the City wants to enforce it.

If the older children can stay out until 12am then what is a 10pm curfew siren going accomplish for that age group. Also most of the violations cited are for times way after the 10pm siren sounds, some as much as 5 or 6 hours after the siren has done it's job. So what's the point of continuing the charade that the siren is a meaningful curfew alert system.

With daylight savings time it's kind of hard to yank the kids inside when it is still relatively light out at 10pm. Maybe Ludington should be on Wisconsin time.

The ultimate responsibility is for the parents to know where their children are and what their children are doing.

Willy, I think that siren also reminds the parents and adults of the curfew too when busy year around, and esp. in the summer months of busy times, and much more daylight. Now doesn't that make sense too? Kids all have cell phones too now, so there is no excuse for not knowing what time it is.

If most kids have a phone and can follow the time and parents can track them and call them if they are past the curfew then that sort of makes the need for the curfew siren another blast from the past. That also makes the desire for the siren a matter of nostalgic urge and not one of necessity.

Willy, when I posted my earlier comment, it was as a 'reply' to your comment made last night, I do not understand why it is now gone, nor do I understand why my comment didn't disappear with yours, as it normally would.  Thanks for making a backup copy of your thoughts; I will try to figure out the two mysteries so this does not happen again.

Tonight, the city council did something unexpected.  They went into closed session with their Attorney Allan Vander Laan about trial and settlement strategy regarding this federal lawsuit and emerged after about a half hour and immediately voted to settle the siren issue with the Roses.  Terms were unclear, and not all of them have been disclosed, but it appears that the siren will remain up and only sound on Saturdays at noon.  The City will wind up paying for the plaintiff's federal filing fees.

I don't fully understand why four of the councilors did not think this fight was winnable and worth battling, but I do fully understand that they are not good public servants when they cannot detail exactly why they thought it was a losing battle.

Sounds like a huge bunch of BS to me, typical of the BS Council these days too. Details of their decision process is necessary to be at least worthy of listening to, and be accountable to the citizenry. But, I guess those days are now long gone, sad, and disgusting to locals.

I agree that all of the particulars regarding the siren should have been released. I also agree with the council's decision. With all the new people moving into the area, especially older folks,  the siren situation was bound to come up. This is not the pre 21st century era when something like the siren was needed. I remember the siren from years past which I also liked, however, since it's move into a mostly residential area where the siren's blast had not previously been so loud and it's importance relating to it's need has changed, it was definitely  time for  rethinking the need for the siren. Blame this on progress and blame it on the progressives who forced the siren to be relocated causing this friction in the community. 

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