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Emanuel Proposes Tougher Curfew Restrictions

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 11, 2014 8:30PM

Facing a possible political backlash, Mayor Rahm Emanuel cited public safety concerns and uniformity with state law as the main reasons he wants to extend Chicago’s curfew law to cover everyone under the age of 18. Emanuel’s proposal, which he introduced at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, would set the curfew for children ages 12 through 17 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends, and comes three years after City Council rolled back the curfew time for children 12 and under to 8:30 p.m. on weeknights and 9 p.m. on weekends.

Emanuel said after the council meeting it would be up to parents to ensure their children are heeding the curfew.

“The first [curfew change] we did was to [shift] the responsibility to parents. This alteration is just to be consistent with what the state says between the ages of 17 and 18 and where they say the cut-off is. But the goal, regardless of that, is to make sure kids — during school nights and even on the weekend — are home safe at hours and that parents have a responsibility to make sure they’re indoors,” the mayor said.

“There are times in which we hear and read stories where we’re wondering why is a child out when they should be literally at those hours — not on the porch, not out on the playground — but in bed asleep . . . Too often and too frequently, all of us shake our heads because we hear these stories about an 11-year-old out at hours when they need to be indoors.”

Emanuel added the proposal may not be popular for teens who are old enough to have driver's licenses or vote, but it’s necessary for public safety. “The goal isn’t what is popular. The goal is what keeps our kids safe and what is consistent…They should be indoors. At later hours, they should not be out on the street,” the mayor said.

Emanuel’s words could be seen by some critics as an extension of his “where are the parents” message he trots out every time the city sees a rash of shootings. Some aldermen are concerned on the added load changing the curfew could place on a Police Department already stretched thin fighting violent crime across the city. Ald. Danny Solis (25th) is one of those aldermen.

“We don’t have the police manpower to check on everybody’s age,” said Solis, who also applauded the idea as a way to give police “another tool” to deal with kids they find hanging around outside late at night. “But it could be something, if the circumstance requires it, that’s something else the police could use.”

Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) questioned whether the curfew should be extended because “17-year-olds in the eyes of the courts are predominantly treated as adults.”

“If you’re gonna be treated and arrested and convicted like an adult, then you should at least have some of the benefits,” said Brookins.