Mayor urges bill to indefinitely extend successful safeguard
On Thursday the Nutter administration rolled out a plan to permanently and significantly tighten Philadelphia’s curfew laws with earlier hours for minors ages 13 years old and younger.
The mayor’s plan was introduced in City Council on Thursday and follows earlier initiatives started over the summer to eliminate the problem of violent flash mobs. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison, who was present when City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown brought the bill before Council, said that if local lawmakers pass the measure, children 13 years old and younger would have to be at home by 8 p.m.
“We heard from the public that the efforts we made over the summer had worked. It raised the level of attention from the parents and they wanted to know what the specific rules were and be able to have us suggest what the rules should be,” Gillison said. “We did some studies and we think this graduated approach was the way to go. Children ages 13 and younger have to be home by 8 p.m. Minors ages 14 to 15 have to be in by 9 p.m. and minors ages 16 to 17 have to be home by 10 p.m. — that’s during the school year and throughout the week, seven days a week. During the summer it would be extended by one hour for the same ages. This is for parents to understand what we expect from them — because we’re going to hold them accountable.”
Gillison said the new curfew laws would be citywide and that the changes would simplify the restrictions that are currently in place.
According to Gillison, the response from police officers has also been positive. He said that officers report they’ve been interacting with the community and communicating to parents that what the administration wants is for them to stay with their kids and not let them run around unsupervised.
“What we need them to do is take responsibility, and parents in this city have done that — they’ve stepped up. What we’re trying to do with this bill is to open up and finish the dialog. This is but one part of an entire holistic approach. But we wanted to make sure with a new City Council that this is what the curfew needed to be, these are the standards and we know the parents of this city are going to comply.”
Gillison said that the city is maintaining the extended hours for recreation centers and is working with the Youth Commission to increase the number of activities for the winter. He said that the last time he checked the statistics there were between 200 and 300 youths picked up off the streets who had violated curfew.
The good news is that law enforcement isn’t getting the same kids.
“We haven’t seen recidivists,” he said. “This is not to penalize the parents, we want them to pay attention to their children. As a result, when we bring them the first time it’s a warning — ‘Come get your kid.’ That inconvenience alone has been enough for the parents to step up. This isn’t a revenue bill; we don’t want to fine people. What we want is for parents to take responsibility for their children. We haven’t had to take the second step and fine anyone.”