County Executive Isiah Leggett said Tuesday that a decision to impose a curfew on teenagers is too complex to rely on studies conducted in other jurisdictions.
"Any study you bring to me, I could debunk it," Leggett said, because variables like population density, income and geography vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
But a key opponent to the curfew, Councilmember Phil Andrews, called on a "data-driven, evidence-based" approach to fighting juvenile crime. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) chairs the Montgomery County Council's Public Safety Committee, which begins work on Leggett's curfew proposal this week.
After a July gang fight in Silver Spring, Leggett proposed a curfew of 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday.
The group Stand Up to the Montgomery County Curfew agrees with Andrews, and its website is full of studies that show curfews are not effective in reducing crime.
"It's a big, flashy move that might make people feel better, but it won't do anything to reduce crime," said Abigail Burman, 17, one of the group’s founders. "What it will do is drive a wedge between police and the teen community."
Leggett (D) met with council members before their morning meeting.
Councilmember Nancy Floreen (D-At large) suggested a new option Tuesday for putting the curfew into effect. The council could give Leggett the power to impose the curfew, to "depoliticize the process," Floreen said.
"I trust [the executive office's] judgments in that regard," Floreen said. "It's a good tool, the police feel that strongly."
"It's not going to solve everything," said Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At large), a Public Safety Committee member. He said he is leaning in favor of the curfew, but still has questions. "It's a blunt tool."
Councilmember Craig Rice's district includes Germantown, where a group of teens conducted a late-night group theft from a convenience store last month. He shared Leggett's views of studies.
"We'd never be able to quantify so many factors and variables," said Rice (D-Dist. 2). "But the people who are the first responders, the police, strongly feel that having a curfew will make a difference."