It's been five years since Lubbock's curfew center closed. The center housed teens picked up after hours. At the time, Lubbock police were having a problem with juvenile gangs and high crime on the streets. Problems we aren't seeing today, according to police, but the need to enforce curfew is surfacing again.
City Councilman Floyd Price knows the success of the curfew center first hand. A retired officer now, at the time he was one of the officers who worked at the center. "Crime went down a lot from 1995 to 1999 and after the center was closed down of course the juv's start prowling the streets again. So we'd like to see that happen again, where juv's would no longer be allowed to go past curfew," says Councilman Price.
For five years, police patrolled the streets picking up teens out after hours. They'd drop them off at the curfew center, then a parent or guardian had to take them home and both were ticketed. It worked, but by 1999 few teens were being arrested and officers were on the clock, sitting at the center. "It got to where we had officers sitting out there on the payroll and it didn't justify the existence of that," Police Chief Claude Jones said.
These days teens are actually getting better at meeting their curfew. Since 2001 the number of citations has decreased significantly. In 2001, officers issued 677 citations, 459 in 2002, and 511 in 2003. This year from January to May 190 citations were issued. But Chief Jones and Price agree, no matter the statistics, the curfew ordinance and procedures do need to be addressed.
"We live in a society where a lot of people depend on police to be the parents for their children. School teachers now are having to be parents, and sure no doubt about it parents need to step up to the plate and take responsibility for their children," Chief Jones said.
"The PD shouldn't be the agency to baby sit that should be done from within. Take responsibility and then you don't have to worry about getting arrested for your kid," Price says.
The current curfew ordinance has expired, it's currently being tweaked and will be presented at Monday's City Council meeting for approval. As for a new plan, Chief Jones says he is looking into ways to put more emphasis on enforcing the curfew.
The current curfew is for all teens under 17 in Lubbock. There is a daytime curfew, during the hours kids should be in school. And on school nights, no teen should be out between the hours of 11pm to 6am. On the weekend, it's midnight. These hours are also in effect in the summer.