Curfew a Cosmetic Fix

Somehow the Baltimore City Council decided to fight crime in Baltimore and to keep city kids safe but choosing to make decisions for parents:

A tough new curfew forcing kids off the streets as early as 9 p.m. was approved Monday by the Baltimore City Council over objections it will place too much stress on the Police Department and lead to conflicts between youths and officers.

The legislation requires one more vote for final passage, which is expected next month. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said she’ll sign it into law.

The bill’s sponsor, Councilman Brandon Scott, said it is intended to keep small children from wandering the street, becoming victims of crime or suffering from neglect.

“We have to do something,” Scott said. “Young children are out there. … This bill is not about arresting kids. This bill is not about dropping crime. It’s about connecting young people and their families with the services they need.”

The legislation, approved 11-2, calls for youngsters under 14 to be indoors year-round by 9 p.m. Youths ages 14 through 16 could stay out until 10 on school nights and 11 on other nights.

That’s right folks, Baltimore will violate you children’s civil liberties and try to serve as replacement parents, all “for the children.”

Of course there’s one minor problem with the fact that the City Council is passing a curfew; the city already has a curfew for all children under 17 years of age. But why let that stop such a piece of legislation passing..

The irony of this of course is buried in what Mayor Rawlings-Blake said about the curfew bill:

“We all know that when children are on the streets late at night without proper supervision, they are more likely to either become the perpetrators or the victims of violent crime,” Rawlings-Blake said in a statement. “I believe this legislation will be another much needed tool to help reduce the number of juveniles on the streets at night, while furthering a commitment my administration has made to provide more services for young people we know are vulnerable.”

So to recap:

  • There’s a curfew bill that is already in place;
  • City leaders think that an expanded curfew bill will be stronger than the existing curfew bill; and
  • Nobody seems to think the curfew bill is going to work.

The crux of the Mayor’s argument is that since a new curfew bill is in place to replace the old curfew bill, parents and guardians of children are 17 who already don’t care that their children are wandering the streets at night are suddenly now going to care. If the curfew bill is already in place, why does city government really think that a tougher curfew is going to get anybody’s attention?
Long-time City Council Member Mary Pat Clarke also fully embraces the city government-as-parent meme:

The bill also institutes a daytime curfew of 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., adding an exception for youths traveling to or from school. 

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Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she hopes the bill will force young people to get to school earlier to eat a healthy breakfast instead of junk food from stores. 

“This is to protect children,” she said of the bill.

The only person quoted in this entire article who has any damn sense at all is the President of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in the city who realizes that curfew enforcement should not be a high priority for city police officers and instead should be a parental responsibility.
I have been extremely critical in the past of city government, particularly the Mayor, for her steadfast refusal to work toward solutions to the city’s problems. We all understand that the city has serious problems with crime, with youth issues, and with education. This bill nicely brings all of these issues together in a way that touches those problems without actually trying to bring forth a solution to any of them. The bill doesn’t fix schools, nor does it doesn’t create job opportunities.

What the bill does do, however, is to create a new offense for police officers to stop children or people who look like children in order to check their ID and possibly issue them a fine for being out past curfew. This will of course take police resources away from fighting crime though, creating more opportunities for Baltimore’s criminal element.

As always, the Baltimore City Council is hard a work doing nothing beneficial to city citizens..

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