The move, however, is drawing some serious criticism from residents, public safety experts, and civil rights advocates.
Opponents argue it won’t lower youth delinquency and police experts say such strict curfews are hard to enforce.
“In concept, they may be a good idea,” said Chuck Drago, a police procedures expert who worked for the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, police department when they instituted a juvenile curfew in the late 1990s. “But it’s very difficult and very rare that a police department can actually follow through with these curfews because it requires so much staffing, it’s so intensive to enforce it. Police officers have got to pick up these kids and hold onto them and find someone to turn them over to.”
Under the bill, which was approved by the city council and is expected to get Democratic Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s support, children under 14 would need to be home by 9 p.m. year-round and teens 14 to 16 years old would have a curfew of 10 p.m. on weeknights during the school year and 11 p.m. on weekends.
In addition, the bill imposes a daytime curfew during school hours — 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. — restricting youth under 16 from being in public places or stores when they should be in class.
“We did that because it’s just old-school common sense,” Councilman Brandon Scott, the bill’s lead supporter, said. “If you’re going to ask young people to be up and ready for school at 6:30, 7 o’clock in the morning, then they should not be out at 11 p.m. at night.”
Still, the bill is raising some questions and for very legit reasons.
“Police aren’t social workers,” said Sonia Kumar, ACLU Maryland staff attorney. “When we’ve talked to young people about their interactions with police, they’ve told a very different story about the nature of those interactions that suggest that in fact these situations will quickly escalate in ways that this bill’s supporters are choosing to ignore.”
In addition, she said, “What these laws do is give the ability to officers to stop any young-looking person who is outside at a certain time and ask what they’re doing, ask for identification. It affects not only those who are explicitly covered by the curfew, but reaches older adolescents and young people as well.”
Baltimore isn’t alone in its quest to police the young — Indianapolis; Oakland, California; and Austin, Texas, are also considering curfews. If approved, they will join other large cities in the nation who already have curfews imposed.
For more information on Baltimore’s newest effort to curb violence, click here.
SOURCE: NBC | VIDEO SOURCE: News Inc.