DALLAS — Time is of the essence, right now in the City of Dallas. In about one week, the city’s current youth curfew ordinance will expire.
That is why some residents met in District 8 Councilman Tennell Atkins’ community office on Thursday. They wanted to give council members and police some input on whether the city should keep a teen curfew in place or let the curfew dissolve.
“It’s about prevention,” said longtime community organizer Edna Pemberton. “It’s about saving the lives of our young men and our young girls.”
Pemberton was part of a group that spearheaded the fight for a youth curfew back in 1991. Those efforts came after a young mother was raped and beaten by a group of teens.
Dianne Gibson was also among those organizers. She believes the curfew keeping youth 17 and under off the streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. is still critical today.
“Some people think that the police are going to use this just to harass our kids. Some people say, 'Oh, I heard they are going to have a criminal record.' So, it’s all about education," Gibson said.
Dallas Police data shows in the first six months of 2018 officers issued 312 citations to youth who were found outside after hours. Municipal judges say, in most cases, they work with the teens and the families. In many cases, teens are offered community service.
While most community members at the meeting seemed to support continuing a curfew, many believe the conditions could be enhanced to meet the needs of youth in 2019.
”I say let them give their input to City Hall,” said District 8 Councilman Tennell Atkins. “If they want a teen curfew, let the community say they want a teen curfew. If they want to change it, let’s change it. But if you change it, what are we going to do with it?”
Dallas Police Department will be making a presentation about the curfew before City Council’s Public Safety Committee Monday, Jan. 14.