I’ve heard it said that “nothing good ever happens after midnight.”
To that end, Dallas city officials are wrestling with whether to retain a 26-year-old curfew the city imposed against juveniles.
They ought to do what they can to retain the curfew, which is set to expire Friday if the council doesn’t act.
I’m not a particularly harsh old geezer on this. I just believe that cities have an inherent duty to enact measures that maintain safety. Dallas’s curfew isn’t perfect, but it is a reasonable approach to seeking and keep the community safe.
The ordinance requires youth younger than 17 years of age to be off the streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday. They may be out in the wee hours if they are accompanied by an adult. Violating the ordinance could result in a $500 fine.
I’ve heard the criticism from some who believe the curfew “unfairly” targets children who live in low-income neighborhoods. That’s a bit of a head-scratcher. Are these folks saying that children who live in low-income neighborhoods more inclined to be out past curfew than those who live in swankier ‘hoods? That doesn’t quite compute with me.
The issue for retaining the ordinance seems to revolve on whether to lessen the penalties for violators. Some residents and activists want to “decriminalize” the act of violating curfew. Hmm. How does that work? If you are breaking the law, aren’t then, by definition, a criminal?
Cities enact curfew with one intention, to protect children from late-night mischief that too often produces tragic results.
Dallas is no different. Keep the curfew.
Here is a Dallas Morning News editorial supporting the curfew. I stand with the newspaper editorial board on this one.