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Leggett Discounts Studies on Curfews

Andrews wants 'data-driven' approach.

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."

AntonFisher September 14, 2011 at 08:34 PM
Teens should be home by 9:00pm. I think 11:00pm is too late. Why would a parent allow a person under 18 to be on the street after 11:00pm? A parent who allows that and does not care about the safety of their child should not be parenting!!!
AntonFisher September 14, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Peter and jag... I guess you do not mind your teenage kids being out on the streets late at night. If that is the case, then maybe you should put them on the metro and have them spend all the wee hours of the night in DC. I think you would trust your kinds anywhere they go since you are NOT concerned about them being out without adult supervision after midnight.
Theresa Defino September 14, 2011 at 09:02 PM
@Marty--Teens do not commit crimes in the time period that the curfew would cover. Their crimes are during the day. This is not about teen-on-teen crime. See here for more info: http://www.youthrights.org/curfewfaq.php @DC guy--You're right--it should be up to the parents to decide when the child comes home, not the police.
Peter Mork September 15, 2011 at 11:49 AM
DCGuy: Exactly, it's my decision as a parent to set rules for my child. MoCo needs to butt out.
Peter Mork September 15, 2011 at 11:52 AM
Wow! So, seventeen year olds should never go to the movies or other social events that let out after 9 p.m.? Part of growing up is learning to make your own decisions. Locking a child in the basement until they turn 18 is not a recipe for raising responsible, mature adults. So, go ahead and convince protective services that I'm unfit to be a parent, but in the meantime, keep these excessive and ineffectual laws off the books.

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