INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It started as a conversation about curfew, but it ended in a conversation about much more.
A meeting about a proposal that would amend the current curfew law in Indianapolis was packed Tuesday evening.
The proposal would move curfew for those 15-17 years old, to 11 PM every night of the week. Right now, it’s 1 a.m. on weekends.
Quickly though, those who attended the meeting found it wasn’t just curfew, the police chief wanted to talk about.
“This isn’t about curfew. We duped you to get you here,” Chief Rick Hite said. “What we brought you here to talk about… is what are we going to do with our young people, as we go forward? Because we’re not going to have another summer like we had last year.”
“We need to identify what our issues are,” said city-county councillor Vop Osili. “What works, what doesn’t? If it’s not curfew, then what?”
A conversation starter, in a room full of people with ideas and opinions.
“We’re seeing an epidemic that we haven’t quite seen before in Indy. We’re letting you know it’s coming. But we can stave it off, we still have time before school lets out and before summer begins, to try to build a system in place,” said Chief Hite.
Police say curfew is a way for them to engage young people, and head them home if need be. Right now, they say, if it’s before 1 AM on the weekends, there’s not much they can do if teens aren’t committing a crime.
“The curfew law is a tool that officers have to use right now, and parents can use,” said IMPD Assistant Chief Lloyd Crowe.
“You tell me, what’s open in this city, for young person, between 11 and 1 in the morning,” said Hite.
Jenny Young, with Marion County Superior Court and the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, also provided some insight at the meeting.
“ There are so many programs that are happening here for youth already, all across the city. So how do we coordinate them better? How do we let families know about them? How do we make sure they have the resources they need to serve an increase ,” said Young. “It’s a much larger question than whether or not lowering curfew on weekends is going to be effective, because in and of itself, it’s not going to change much. It will allow officers to approach youth earlier and hopefully send them home, which is exactly what we want to happen, if they’re not out there with a purpose. But we want to make sure it is supported through community response, otherwise, it’s an empty threat.”
Many spoke up against changing the curfew law, saying it’s not the way to reduce violence among youth.
Some worried it would spur racial profiling.
One woman spoke, saying her daughter was murdered.
“Curfews are very interesting, but the data does suggest curfew doesn’t stop crime,” said another person. “What we need are some services. Problem is, no one wants to put dollars behind programs.”
“We have money for the Pacers, we have money for the Colts. If we’re so serious about our youth, why not direct some money toward our youth… other than $75,000 dollars, because the problem is bigger than that,” said Pastor David Greene.
“For people to say, well, the curfew’s not going to work, I disagree,” said Marvin Taylor. “It’s a tool… it’s not the ‘end all, be all,’ one of the solutions in building a better community.”
Spurring a conversation, trying to determine the best approach with youth as summer approaches.
The committee did not vote on the proposal, instead, they decided to bring the conversation back up at their next meeting in May.