Thursday, July 28, 2011
Police state, I mean nanny state, declared in Chicago. Now if we could only keep the politicians off the streets...
Parents who let their kids under 12 stay out past 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends will pay a heavy price beginning Sept. 18, under a City Council crackdown launched Thursday at the urging of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy.
“I grew up with a curfew,” Emanuel said earlier this week. “When the lights on the street went on, you took your tail and made it home and in the house. And that’s what I believe is the right policy for the safety and security of our kids.
“It doesn’t mean that, because you have, kids are gonna be safe. But it means that we’re aligning good parenting and the laws of the city to make sure that our children are gonna be safe.”
McCarthy said he gets daily briefings on every shooting in the city. When young people are involved, the first question is about curfew.
“As soon as a 15-year-old is shot at 12 o’clock at night, I turn right to Ernie Brown, who is deputy superintendent of patrol, and I say, `I want to know what the curfew numbers are in this location in this district?’ “ McCarthy said.
Informed that the number of curfew citations issued by Chicago Police have been dropping steadily in recent years, McCarthy said, “I have to get tough on my commanders to make sure that they’re doing curfew so we don’t have young people getting shot late at night.”
Two years ago, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley turned back the curfew clock by 30 minutes--to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends for Chicago’s 730,000 kids under the age of 17. The curfew is currently the same for younger kids.
The ordinance approved at Thursday’s City Council meeting will do it again, but only for children under 12. Beginning Sept. 18, they will have to be in the house or in their front or back yards by 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends.
Parents or guardians who ignore the new law could be saddled with either community service or a $500 fine for the first two offenses and $1,500 for three or more violations over 12 months.
Those penalties could e imposed if, “by insufficient control,” they allow their kids under 12 to be out after those hours, the ordinance states. The wording is designed to prevent parents from escaping responsibility by claiming they didn’t know their children’s whereabouts, officials said.
Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields called the ordinance a sad commentary on “the society we live in.”
“We have to make laws to tell parents their children should be in at night….That’s something parents ought to know, but they don’t and it’s a shame,” Shields said.
“A few days ago, a kid pulled a bb-gun out at a police officer. What we’re not talking about is this was 11 o’clock at night and he’s 13-years-old. Shame on that parent for having that 13-year-old out at that time of night.”
But, after a two-year hiring slowdown that has created a severe manpower shortage, Shields said the latest curfew crackdown is more symbolic than real.
“It’s not going to be enforcible. If we can’t enforce laws to curb street violence because of manpower issues, how can we enforce [and even stricter] curfew law?” he said.
Former Police Committee Chairman Anthony Beale (9th) has warned that the new ordinance would overburden police and “penalize our children for enjoying the summer months.”
But Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel Jeff Levine has stressed that parents or guardians could escape liability if the minor is on the sidewalk in front of their own or a neighbor’s house.
He has also noted that citations would not be written until police officers ask questions about the minor’s age and reason for being out on the street.
“In a situation where a minor is biking up and down, essentially on their own block, the officer would have the tools under this ordinance to conclude that it is not a curfew violation,” Levine assured aldermen last week.