Dallas Needs to Continue Its Juvenile Curfew, Despite City’s Failure to Track Impact

Smart policing is more than responding to reports of crime. It also involves noticing the signs of potential trouble and giving police the tools to intervene.That’s why we would encourage the City Council to renew Dallas’ juvenile curfew ordinance, despite calls to let it die. We are stunned too, that due to poor planning, the city will not have a juvenile curfew at all for weeks.The existing ordinance is reasonable. It requires minors under 17 years of age to be off of the streets between 11 p.m and 6 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights and from midnight to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The ordinance also applies to those under the age of 17 who are truant during school hours. The fine for a curfew violation can be as much as $500.But somehow city officials were slow to notice an approaching deadline for the curfew ordinance to expire. So come this Friday, police will not be able to enforce a curfew. Moreover, a new ordinance can’t be enacted without at least two public hearings, which can’t be legally completed for several weeks. In the interim, Dallas police will have lost a valuable tool.We are also disappointed that Chief U. Renee Hall, who wants a kinder and gentler approach, said she had no data to present the council about the effectiveness of the ordinance. This was an important ordinance, passed with great thought and debate. For the department to offer no feedback is really a failure. That’s not how smart decisions are made. In the absence of data, the committee Monday voted unanimously to proceed with public hearings. That’s the right decision in a bad situation, but the broken process we are undergoing is something that someone at City Hall should be accountable.Police are now in awkward position. A juvenile who is out after midnight on Wednesday could be cited for a curfew violation, setting into motion a process that may bring in their parents, courts and even social services. A couple of days later, that same person would be breaking no laws and police would be less likely to approach and ask why they are on the street.   Continue reading...

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