Local police laud curfew enforcement stating it reduces crime and crime victimization, so they pursue it with zeal. But an in depth look from Voice of San Diego (VSD) suggests otherwise. While the police and city officials may continuously and publicly defend massive curfew enforcement efforts, there is evidence that they have no effects on crime and that the areas where curfews are enforced actually lag behind other communities in terms of crime reduction.
The city has a curfew for youths under the age of 18. At 10 p.m. you must be indoors. If you get caught outside, roaming the streets with friends or even walking home from the grocery store, you are subject to arrest. With that arrest typically comes a court date or, if you are lucky, a diversion and fine at the minimum.
The curfew has been on the books for some time, but it wasn’t until 2008 when San Diego police began their concentrated enforcement efforts. Now, it’s not uncommon for them to arrest 50 youths in a single night.
Anytime a critic stepped forward with complaints about the program, they were met with overwhelming support for it from local officials. From saying it reduces gun violence to saying that it keeps kids safe from victimization, there are numerous reported reasons for keeping enforcement high.
But, according to the Voice of San Diego, those reasons were simply inaccurate.
According to the VSD report, police reported a 47% drop in crime victimization in the areas where curfew enforcement was high. But in areas where they didn’t conduct curfew sweeps there was also a drop—this one 17% more.
Similarly, felony arrests dropped more significantly in the neighborhoods where the sweeps weren’t occurring, shattering the defenses used by law enforcement for conducting the sweeps in the first place.
The VSD report has gotten the attention of officials who now agree a closer look at the curfew enforcement program is needed.
Some supporters say that even if they don’t prevent crime, the sweeps do put at-risk youth in touch with community support measures. Others point out, however, that these young kids being placed in handcuffs sets them up early for a life within the criminal justice system.
While public safety is a main goal of law enforcement, the betterment of the youth should be as well. Finding out just how these arrests affect the youth is crucial in understanding the sweeps’ overall worth.
When your child is arrested swept up into the criminal courts, whether for a statutory offense like curfew violation or a criminal offense, you need the assistance of a local attorney. Contact us today to be put in touch with a lawyer that can help.