Chicago children younger than 12 would have to be inside by 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday under a new curfew proposal endorsed today by a committee at the urging of aldermen whose South Side neighborhoods have been hit hard by street violence.
On Friday and Saturday, the younger children would have to be in by 9 p.m. The curfew for children from 12 to 16 years old would remain the same: 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
There are several exceptions in the current ordinance, including for cases when children are with parents or guardians, taking part in a supervised youth activity or running an errand for a parent or guardian. Children also can be out past curfew if they are in their own or a next-door neighbor’s yard.
The changes were recommended by the City Council Public Safety Committee, and they are likely to be adopted by the full council at next week’s meeting. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and a majority of aldermen have endorsed them.
“We need to protect the children, basically,” said Ald. Emma Mitts, 37th. “That’s our job. . . . We’re trying to protect and save lives.”
Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, asked whether there are enough police on the streets to enforce the ordinance, but Ald. Daniel Solis, 25th, countered by saying that even if it can’t always be enforced, it’s an important tool for police.
“We live in a different era,” Solis said. “There are shootings, and many of these shootings involve young children. And so I think that having this type of law, to be able to be implemented at a specific time in a specific place when needed is a good idea. But I do realize your point, aldermen, that we don’t really have sufficient manpower to enforce it across the board.”
Last year, the Police Department issued 19,500 curfew citations, said Commander Robert Hargesheimer of the Police Department’s youth investigation section.
When police pick up a minor out after curfew, they try to take that child home, but will bring the child into the station if a parent or guardian can’t be found, Hargesheimer said.
He said the proposed changes would be “a valuable tool to keep everybody safe, the kids safe in particular.”
If police believe a child has violated a curfew, a parent or guardian can be cited for not exercising “sufficient control” of the minor. A fine of up to $500 can be imposed.
Under another proposed change recommended by the committee, that fine can be tripled if it’s a third offense in a single year. A hearing officer also could order the parent or guardian to perform community service instead of pay a fine.
Three years ago, under former Mayor Richard Daley, the curfew for all children was moved up half an hour. Hargesheimer said he believes even that modest step prevented children from being shot and abused.
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