Curbing crime by enforcing curfew…?

A few days ago, Kariyanine mentioned Philadelaphia’s rising death toll and some of the official reasons cited for the rising crime rate. (Murder rate is up something like 3.65%! That doesn’t look like a lot, but that means people are being killed.)

Everyone knows that in election season, no bad news is going to pass by without a some semblance of action on the government’s part; I’ve been waiting for that action, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The kind folks of WHYY have alerted me to the official response in their preview headlines. (Between the hours of 7p and 6a or so, WHYY plays little clips that announce tomorrow’s headlines. It gets old sometimes, but it’s usually a good thing because I can decide if I want to wake up early enough to hear the stories.) I went poking around and found this on

Yes. That’s right. Mayor John Street is rolling out a trial curfew for the under 18’s.

“The city’s curfew forbids kids younger than 18 to be on city streets later than 10:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and later than midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Curfew violators are usually sent home or dropped off by police. Their parents can face fines up to $300.”

I’m left with a big ole WTF right here, because I’m not really sure there SHOULD be a curfew. Private businesses have the right to impose their own curfews (for example, my neighborhood Chinese dive doesn’t serve any kids after 10p no matter what), but should the city be pushing something like this? Personally, I’m not sold on the idea. And in the summer, 10.30p is pretty early! I’d hate to imagine what it’s like to be picked up after leaving the late movie with a group of 16 and 17 year old friends!

And if you think that’s crazy, check out with City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown wanted to pull out in May:

“Her bill would require kids under the age of 13 to be indoors at 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. weekends during the school year, and 9:30 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. weekends during the summer.”

Yikes! Maybe my rural self is showing, but I’m not sure we were in the house by 9.30p on summer nights ever! Maybe Sunday nights…maybe. Every other night was filled with flashlight tag, bike riding, night swims, glow-in-the-dark baseball, firefly catching, and random running around the neighborhood.

This stuff will be all over the news tomorrow because the Mayor is announcing the pilot program which will start in the 1st and 17th police districts. (The 17th district sits just north of the 1st district; together, they run from Lombard to the Delaware River and Broad Street to the Schuylkill River. That’s pretty large chunk of land right there.) If it goes well there, it will be rolled out across the city.

I’ll leave you one last quote about why I’m still not sold on this idea:

“One veteran cop questioned the impact the program will have on the 17th district and the 1st district, headquartered at 24th and Wolf streets. ‘Most of their gun violence happens well before curfew,” the cop said. “I’m not sure if this is the way to combat it.'”

4 Comments so far

  1. howard (unregistered) on July 14th, 2006 @ 4:12 am

    These aren’t new curfew laws; it’s just a resolution to actually enforce them. And while the positive impact may be in question, do you really think it will hurt?

  2. suzanne (unregistered) on July 14th, 2006 @ 4:17 am

    The new bits are the fact that the Mayor’s office is pushing it so hard, and that bill in May was new. I don’t know if it passed, but it was a departure.

    Do I think it will hurt?
    Because it will be spreading the police even thinner. Their ranks have been dropping faster and faster. If most crimes are taking place well before the curfew, why make the cops push harder on the curfew? Why spread them that way when we could be moving in other directions?

  3. anya (unregistered) on July 14th, 2006 @ 8:19 am

    This action will never hold up. Just look at Operation Safe Streets. It’s only a matter of months before this curfew thing will go out the window. There are not enough cops in the districts where they need them the most. The majority of the people committing the crimes are over 18.

  4. Andrea (unregistered) on July 14th, 2006 @ 3:27 pm

    I was well aware of the curfew laws already in place. In my old neighborhood I was often awakened at 3 AM when 15 year olds decided to use my front step as a puke stand after a night of binge drinking. Most of the time a simple “Do you need a paper towel?” yelled out the window scared them away. However I knew when curfew was in case I needed to call the cops, since they won’t come out before then unless the kids are doing something terribly illegal.

    That said, I don’t think enforcing the curfew laws will do any good, unless you can get the offenders on another charge. It’s the same with the seatbelt laws: I don’t know anyone who got a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt alone; it’s usually someone gets pulled over for speeding, cop sees no seatbelt, extra fine.

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