DALLAS — DALLAS – For the first time in nearly 30 years, there is no curfew for Dallas teenagers.
A long-time youth curfew ordinance expired at midnight on Jan. 19.
”As of midnight tonight, we will not have a curfew,” said council member Tennell Atkins to a small group gathered at a community meeting at IBOC University of Dreams on Friday. It was the second community meeting in District 8 regarding Dallas’ teen curfew ordinance.
"This teen curfew did not come from the police department," he said. "Did not come from city council. It came from the community.”
The future of the Dallas youth curfew has been at the center of debate and controversy for more than one week. Community members, city leaders and police continue holding last-minute meetings discussing the effectiveness of the ordinance.
”Officers don’t go into the streets to issue curfew citations,” one Dallas Police administrator told the group. “Officers go into the street to bring kids out of the street and save them from harm when they are out past the curfew.”
Community members who fought for and helped draft the ordinance say the curfew is all about public safety and safety of children under 17 caught roaming the streets late at night.
Robbie Estaban and her daughter Bella say they didn’t even know about a teen curfew until a few days ago. Estaban has questions about the data.
"Eighteen percent of the citations that were issued were to black children,” Estaban explained. “Seventy percent of those citations were issued to children that identified as Latino.”
Some others are concerned about fines and how being stopped by police could impact a child.
”With all the things that are going on, these children don’t trust the police,” another woman said.
Some city leaders are among those questioning the need for a youth curfew ordinance.
Dallas council member Philip Kingston said, ”It’s something that Dallas never needed and will never need.”
Kingston is among those who say how youth behave is an issue best left up to their parents, the schools, and the City to give positive outlets.
"I think citizens need to know that this has been studied by academics, by city managers, by police departments," he said. "And every time they’ve applied rigor to it to see if it’s effective they found it’s not effective.”
A youth curfew is an issue that will continue being debated in Dallas for weeks to come.
The City Council is expected to vote Jan. 23 to have two public hearings over the next month.
A fourth community meeting on the curfew issue will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Jaxee Zaragoza Rec Center, located at 3114 Clymer Street in Dallas.