(Updated 8:26 p.m.) Despite threats from the ACLU that its curfew is unconstitutional, Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez and Police Chief Daryl Roberts announced Thursday evening that the city would be extending its 9 p.m. curfew for all city youth under the age of 18 another 30 days.
The curfew, which was implemented after the Aug. 9 West Indian parade shooting that left one dead and six wounded, has been successful, Perez said. He said when the curfew was first implemented he anticipated the police would be taking a lot more kids home and it would be a drain on the city’s police force.
“That’s not the case,” he said Thursday.
Since Aug. 14, police have found 131 youth in violation of the curfew. Of those 131, 119 were given warnings and brought home to their parents, while a handful were arrested for misdemeanors and other violations related to their status with the Department of Children and Families. Roberts said 10 of the curfew violations were by youth from surrounding communities.
The even better news Roberts said is that shooting incidents citywide are down more than 47 percent. He said over the past 28 days there has only been one shooting incident involving someone under the age of 18.
However, the curfew is not a “panacea,” Robert said. He said decrease in shooting incidents is the result of both the curfew and the safe city initiative which puts more police officers on the street.
Perez said another reason the city wants to extend the curfew is to collect more data to see if it’s really the curfew that’s working and rule out any other contributing factors.
Majority Council Leader Rjo Winch said parents are happy with the curfew. “It empowers them,” she said. She said before the curfew parents felt that power had been away from them.
Schools Superintendent Steven Adamowski said teachers and administrators throughout the city have discussed the curfew and are supportive of it. He said every school age child should be home after 9 p.m. doing their homework and getting a good night’s sleep.
When asked about whether he thought the curfew was unconstitutional, Perez said it’s an ordinance that’s been on the books for 30 years and it’s a tool the city felt was necessary to implement at this time. He said if it’s challenged he thinks the city has done everything it needs to do to make sure it would pass constitutional muster.
In 2003 a federal appeals court declared the town of Vernon’s curfew unconstitutional in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Connecticut.
The Vernon ordinance called for all youth under the age of 18 to be home by 11:00 p.m. on school nights or after midnight on weekend nights, with certain exceptions.