Richmond to consider daytime curfew for minors

March 23, 2010 6:31:19 PM PDT
A school time curfew is on the drawing board in Richmond. Police there believe it could make a difference in cutting crime rates. The city council will vote on it tonight.

It is not hard to find students in Richmond cutting class. If caught, police have typically taken them back to school, but that is expected to change.

The plan is to take them to an attendance center run by police. Parents could face fines if their kids cut school.

"The parents would essentially meet them at the attendance center or sometime during the school day they would be obligated to pick them up and we'd use that opportunity to future out what's going on in that kid's life," said Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus.

To give you an idea of how severe the truancy rate is in Richmond, police conducted a four-day sweep and caught 425 students who should have been in school and were not.

The chief of police says most crimes involving Richmond teens happen during school hours.

"A lot of our burglaries, a lot of our car thefts and a lot of drug dealing and unfortunately something as serious as gang involvement, occurs during daytime hours," said Magnus.

Charles Ramsey is a board member with the West Contra Costa School District. He has heard complaints from some in the community.

"A lot of people feel like there may be racial profiling from the standpoint of kids of color, our district is two-thirds Latino and African-American and will people be singled out because of this 8 a.m. to 1p.m. time slot?" said Ramsey.

But it is working in other cities. Benicia imposed a daytime curfew a year and a half ago.

"We've handed out maybe a dozen or 15 citations over the course of last year and so it has really turned out to curb an issue that we had in town and to keep kids in school," said Benicia Police Lt. Michael Daley.

DeVone Boggan is the director of neighborhood safety in Richmond.

"We should at least explore it, considering that it can possibly save lives and that's what this work is about, saving young lives," said Boggan.

If passed, the curfew would go into effect in September.

Fines for parents would likely start at $50 and climb to $500 if their kids continue to skip school.


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