"I understand their concerns," Scott said. "I just disagree. We don't arrest the kids. They don't put them in handcuffs. We don't take them to Central Booking. We take them to the curfew center."

He acknowledged that in the past, the center was "simply a glorified holding cell."

"We're going to change the culture of the curfew," Scott said. "It's not just picking the kids up and locking them in a room."

Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts has endorsed tightening the curfew law, but Robert F. Cherry, president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police lodge, has said curfew enforcement should not be a priority of police officers but should be parents' responsibility.

Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Howard counties don't have youth curfew laws.

The bill also institutes a daytime curfew of 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., adding an exception for youths traveling to or from school.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke said she hopes the bill will force young people to get to school earlier to eat a healthy breakfast instead of junk food from stores.

"This is to protect children," she said of the bill.

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said the success of the legislation will depend upon how well city police enforce it. He said the current less-restrictive curfew "hasn't been enforced."

"I'm hoping the enforcement piece will kick in and we'll be able to save a lot of our young people," he said.

The bill would become law 30 days after being signed by the mayor.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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