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Scores of O.C. teens picked up in 'scared straight' curfew sweep

November 13, 2009 | 12:42 pm

Sixty-seven underage Orange County teens were rounded up in a massive countywide curfew sweep late Thursday in an effort by dozens of law enforcement agencies to scare the after-hours wanderers straight.

The teens, who ranged in age from 13 to 17, were taken to one of three headquarters, put on jail buses to await their parents' arrival and then shown photos of young men who’d been killed in after-curfew incidents.

The sweep was meant to prevent youngsters from being victims of or participants in gang crimes, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Curfews in Orange County begin at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., depending on the city, and last until 5 a.m. Minors are banned from going out in public during these hours unless they’re with a parent or guardian or qualify for an exemption.

Among the offenders late Thursday were college-bound students, reputed gang members, a 13-year-old on probation for kidnapping and more than one drunken teen.

Late in the night, the minors and their parents met with representatives of the district attorney’s office and the probation department to discuss the possible consequences of being out past curfew.

One by one, they were asked to look at large poster boards filled with photos of corpses and asked whether this was how they wanted to end up.

“It’s a very good thing if we get kids when they’re young and we get them off the street,” Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas told officers before the sweep. “Clearly they’re not doing anything good if they’re out there after 10 o’clock.”

About 300 officers participated in the sweep.

-- Paloma Esquivel