Emanuel: Curfew rules will be enforced

August 12, 2011 3:22:59 PM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to impose big fines on parents who let their children remain outside after curfew.

The law goes into effect September 18 and requires kids under 12 to be indoors by 8:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For those between the ages of 12 and 16, it's 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 p.m. on the weekends.

The mayor says stepped up enforcement is part of his strategy to fight crime and save kids.

The mayor passed out information cards early Friday morning on the 95th Street Red Line stop along the Dan Ryan to drive home his point.

Chicago's curfew law was recently ratified by a 50-0 City Council vote, and now parents will be fined, $500 for a first offence, $1,000 for a second and $1,500 for a third, if their youngsters violate curfew.

"We have passed something to help parents be responsible, make sure that parents can say to their children, 'This is what the law is,' so parental responsibility and the law from City Council are aligned," said Mayor Emanuel.

At a late morning stop to announce funding for faith-based community groups to develop their own skills in fighting crime and getting grant money for their range of programs, the mayor -- flanked by his police chief -- said other cities have shown steep fines work and curfews are critical to community-based policing.

But West Side resident Lola Chen wasn't buying a lot of it. She said police need to walk beats, even in tough neighborhoods.

"In the process of not arresting anybody, they're leaving all the citizens' lives at risk because the gang people have drugs, and they have guns and baseball bats," said Chen.

And on the streets near the mayor's photo op, where playgrounds lay empty as worried parents choose to have their kids play where they can see them, beefed up fines for curfew violations were met with skepticism.

"A kid can get hurt at any time of the day," said Robert Johnson.

"It'll really cause more conflict between the authorities and the parents," said Al White. "That shouldn't go on like that."

And there is some support too.

"I think no kids should be outside no later than 9 o'clock," said Tanya Burns.

Burns said she thinks the fines are not too large.

When police pick up a minor out after curfew, they will try to take the child home but will bring the child into a police station if a parent or guardian can't be found, and a hearing officer will be able to order the parent or guardian to perform community service instead of paying a fine.

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