Dallas Juvenile Curfew Reinstated in 10 to 5 Vote

New curfew takes effect March 4

After weeks of heated debate, a Dallas juvenile curfew was reinstated Wednesday in a 10 to 5 City Council vote.

Before the vote, public speakers lined up again. All of the speakers Wednesday said they believe the juvenile curfew unfairly targeted Dallas Black and Hispanic youth in the past.

"Young people are subjected to the perceived risk factor rather than any specific criminal or suspicious behavior," Kristian Hernandez said.

Speaker Nan Kirkpatrick said most crime is committed by adult men.

"So why don't we pass an ordinance to just stop men randomly and see if they're up to mischief. I'm sure nobody in this room would want that to happen," Kirkpatrick said.

The curfew was allowed to expire last month as city leaders discussed the option of doing away with it for good.

Philip Kingston was among the Council Members opposed to any juvenile curfew.

"Curfews don't keep kids safe. They neither reduce crime nor youth victimization," Kingston said.

Some police officers said the curfew was a useful tool for stopping trouble makers. Chief U. Renee Hall supported changes in the city law.

"Our goal as a police department is to better our relations with the community and with our youth, to find alternative ways to deal with our youth before we have to deal with them for a curfew," Hall said.

Councilman Adam McGough crafted the compromise that ended up winning majority support Wednesday.

"You hear this narrative that anybody that walks the street, any kid is going to get picked up and arrested and it's just absolute false," McGough said.

The amendments he offered will instruct officers to take kids home to parents first and issue citations only as a last resort. The citations would only be civil violations handled at a future date in Dallas Community Courts, not in Criminal Court. Fines are reduced to a maximum $50 instead of $500. And $500,000 is set aside for new youth activities, including free admission to Park and Recreation Center programs.

Many existing exceptions for young people who have good reasons for being out doors or on the street remain in the reinstated law.

"I think a good compromise is when everybody is not completely happy, so it's probably a good compromise," said Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata. "Let's try it. It's less than what we have, but if we're still able to keep kids safe, let's to it."

The new Dallas school time and overnight Juvenile Curfew takes effect March 4.

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