Cities Say Curfews Help Reduce Gang Activity and Violent Crime
Pionke, John, Nation's Cities Weekly
Cities continue to implement and enforce youth' curfews as a tool to help ensure the safety of their communities and to deter crime and violence among youth, according to a new Insta-Poll of nearly 800 cities conducted by the National League of Cities (NLC). The survey also shows that curfews are cost effective and useful and that a growing number of city officials have confidence in curfews as an effective strategy to help curb gang violence in their cities.
The overwhelming majority of cities with curfews say the curfews are effective in improving safety in several areas: combating juvenile crime (effectiveness reported by 97 percent of respondents), fighting truancy (96 percent), making streets safer (95 percent) and reducing gang violence (88 percent).
This survey was a follow up to a survey done by NLC in 1999 and is a continuing effort to bring youth issues to the forefront of the NLC agenda. NLC's Institute for Youth Education and Families (YEF) was created in January 2000 as a special entity within NLC, to help municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth and families of their communities. As a national resource to cities and towns across America, the Institute provides guidance and assistance to municipal officials, compiles and disseminates information on promising strategies and best practices, builds networks of local officials, and conducts research on the key challenges facing municipalities.
Among cities with nighttime curfews, 56 percent reported drops in violent crime and 55 percent reported a drop in gang activities after one year of their curfews' implementation. This represents an improvement compared to cities' responses in NLC's 1999 survey in which 26 percent reported drops in violent crime and 43 percent reported drops in gang activity after one year of curfew implementation. A number of respondents to the Insta-Poll commented that curfews serve as a tool in identifying gangs and gang activities, but do little to stop hard-core gang members:
In cities with nighttime curfews, children under the age of 18 are expected to be off the streets by 11 p.m. during the week in more than half the cities (52 percent). The curfews are extended one hour to midnight on the weekends by most (55 percent) of the surveyed cities.
A majorities of cities (88 percent) said they had no problems implementing their curfew, and 89 percent said there were no significant new costs for their police departments. …