City Council to Consider Re-Adopting a Decriminalized Youth Curfew

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Lighting at Travis Park facing East is mostly LED based lights but is combined with bright yellow incandescent lighting from above. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Proposed changes to San Antonio's youth curfew ordinance would make those found violating the curfew no longer subject to being charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

City Council will soon vote on re-adopting San Antonio's youth curfew ordinance, but with changes that seek to decriminalize violators and instead offer them corrective resources from a new pilot program.

The current curfew went into effect in June 2015 with the intended purpose of minimizing the likelihood that youth would participate in, or become victims of, criminal activity. It prohibits 10- to 16-year olds from being out and unsupervised between the hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., and from being out of school on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The proposed changes, recommended on Tuesday by the City's five-member Public Safety Committee, would make those found violating the curfew no longer subject to being charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

Instead, the City will employ a pilot program, focused in six zip codes across the Westside, Southside, and Eastside in areas with at-risk youth, to address the issues causing the curfew-breaking behaviors.

The goal of the re-engagement program will be to get students and other at-risk youth aged 16 to 24, either back into schools or into employment. Youth may be identified by San Antonio Police Department officers who find them breaking curfew, or through referrals from participating City departments, school districts, and faith-based community nonprofits.

Seven departments in city government came together to formulate the new plan: the Department of Human Services, the Metropolitan Health District, Parks & Recreation, Economic Development, Municipal Court, the San Antonio Public Library, and SAPD. A new re-engagement center would most likely be run by the City's Department of Human Services, said Rebecca Flores, education program administrator for the City.

Council members William "Cruz" Shaw (D2), Greg Brockhouse (D6), Ana Sandoval (D7), John Courage (D9), and Clayton Perry (D10) make up the public safety committee and gave their approval for re-adopting the curfew with the recommendations to decriminalize violations.

However, Perry and Sandoval expressed concern about the lack of input from the local 17 school districts. Only Judson, Alamo Heights, North East, Harlandale, and Southside ISDs contacted SAPD to express their support for re-adoption of the curfew ordinance.

Akeem Brown, chairman of My Brother's Keeper San Antonio, told the Rivard Report after the meeting that the recommendations fit requests the organization had made for the re-adoption of the ordinance, but that he also felt there needed to be more school district involvement.

"School districts have been citing [curfew violators] way more than police officers, and those numbers were not displayed" at the meeting, Brown said.

SAPD presented citation statistics by demographic group collected since the enactment of the ordinance in 2015 that showed more youth of color were given citations than white youth. They showed white youth receiving 44.1 percent of curfew citations, followed by Hispanics receiving 39.6 percent, and blacks receiving 9.4 percent, with 6.9 percent unknown.

Brockhouse, responding to a claim by My Brother's Keeper that citations have an impact on youth of color, commented on the demographics saying that "this isn't a color issue, it's a youth issue."

Speaking after the meeting, Brown said he disagreed with Brockhouse's claim that there was no race issue in the discussion, but believed the councilman made the comment based on incomplete citation figures. It was unclear if the figures provided during Tuesday's meeting were citations given solely by SAPD, or SAPD and some of the 17 school districts. 

It was unclear when the full City Council will vote on the curfew measure.

5 thoughts on “City Council to Consider Re-Adopting a Decriminalized Youth Curfew

  1. WHY is this demographic at risk?
    Instead, the City will employ a pilot program, focused in six zip codes across the Westside, Southside, and Eastside in areas with at-risk youth, to address the issues causing the curfew-breaking behaviors.
    I am guessing it is socioeconomics. The parents are the ones who needed the education. I support whatever it takes to break the cycle of parents who do not parent, they do not deserve the children they have. However, we continue to pay them to raise them (more like raising a beer). A 1o-year-old out after 11:00 PM to me sounds incredulous.

    • What an ugly, classist comment. There are so many unfair assumptions about the people who live in these areas contained in your comment. Have you lived in any of these areas? Have you worked or volunteered with these families? If you are so concerned about educating the parents who don’t parent, what have you done about it besides spouting misguided comments like this on the internet?

      Positive change in our community won’t happen until we realize that we are all more alike than we are different.

  2. How do the City and SAPD reconcile this: “in 2015 […] white youth receiv[ed] 44.1 percent of curfew citations, followed by Hispanics receiving 39.6 percent, and blacks receiving 9.4 percent, with 6.9 percent unknown” with this: “the City will employ a pilot program, focused in six zip codes across the Westside, Southside, and Eastside in areas with at-risk youth, to address the issues causing the curfew-breaking behaviors”?

    If the biggest bloc of curfew violations were among white youth, why is enforcement being targeted at communities of color? If, as Councilman Brockhouse says, “this isn’t a color issue, it’s a youth issue”, why aren’t the targeted ZIP codes more reflective of the actual statistics? Do curfew violations not occur north of 410? All this does is put minority youth in more contact with law enforcement in provocative situations, and we know that always turns out well.

  3. I live next to a church where kids play basketball and are supposed to leave by 10 pm but they don’t. There is the activity that is being performed that goes beyond the 10 pm curfew. Loud booming cars, louder music, and shouting. I have found drug-related items and condoms on the asphalt. And I suspect that older adults are luring young adults into this ugly world of crime. A citywide curfew of 9 pm for the young teens should be the key time. We need to separate young teens away from young adults. I am a SA native and my parents made us be home by no later than 8:30 pm, no teenagers need to wonder freely.

  4. There needs to be an exemption for home schoolers. Many take dual credit courses on our community college campuses; research at the public library; drive themselves to meet up classmates at academic co-ops, symphony performances, and the like;volunteer and do research at nature centers, museums, or labs; practice their individual and team sports, etc. We did all this! In other words, I carefully curated the freedom of the teenage older and chose either to teach and wait with the youngest at the location or stayed at home. The parent should choose the freedoms, and the police should focus on criminal behaviors. An inflexible curfew hobbles home schooling. I wanted my teens to contribute and learn from the world rather than be stuck indoors at home. Don’t mess with success.

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