- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2006

A key part of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ plan to stop a surge of violent crime begins tomorrow when juveniles must be off the streets by 10 p.m., a mandate that city residents tepidly support.

“I think the curfew is going to help but not by itself,” Henry Dozier, 74, said yesterday. “You have to give them some alternatives to just being in the house, something wholesome. These children don’t really have anything to keep them off the streets.”

The midnight curfew for the summer months was moved up as part of an emergency legislation package approved by the mayor and the D.C. Council after Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles H. Ramsey declared a crime emergency on July 11.

The curfew applies to all D.C. residents and visitors younger than 17 until Aug. 30.

Youths are barred from city streets, parks and other outdoor public places until 6 a.m. daily. They also are prohibited from being in vehicles or on the premises of any establishment within the city during the curfew hours, under the Juvenile Curfew Act passed in 1995.

Chief Ramsey said the curfew will be enforced aggressively as a primary offense, and that officers will question anybody who looks to be underage.

“If they live close by and are not chronic curfew violators, we’ll take them home,” he said. “The officer can also take them to the curfew center.”

Curfew violators will be held either at Choice Academy at Douglass Senior High School in Southeast or at Shaw Junior High School in Northwest until a parent or guardian arrives.

Those not picked up by 6 a.m. and children 12 or younger will be turned over to the city’s Child and Family Services Agency.

Parents or guardians are subject to a maximum fine of $500 or community service. A minor who breaks curfew could be ordered to perform up to 25 hours of community service.

Exemptions are made for work, emergencies or church-sponsored events. Youths also can be out with a parent or guardian.

Brandon Rollins, a 16-year-old working at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Northwest, said he likely will disregard the new curfew hours.

“I won’t pay it any mind,” he said. “If I’m out, it’s because I’ve got something to do. If I’ve got to go somewhere, I’ve got to go somewhere. I’m not really paying attention to the police or anything like that. I know I’m not doing anything illegal, so I know I don’t have anything to worry about.

“I’m not going to be looking at my watch, like, ‘Oh, it’s 9:30, I better get in the house,’ ” Brandon said. “I’m not going to go in the house because somebody got shot. People get shot all over the world. Are they going to shut the world down, just because people get killed? That’s not going to stop crime.”

In the first 11 days of the month, 13 homicides were reported. They included the case of Alan Senitt, a British political activist. Mr. Senitt, 27, was stabbed to death July 9 in an attempted robbery in Georgetown. Four suspects, including a male juvenile, were arrested and charged.

A series of armed robberies on the Mall since late May affected a dozen persons, including 10 tourists. Two of the victims reportedly were sexually assaulted. Three attacks were reported in May, and two more the night of July 11, hours after Chief Ramsey declared the crime emergency. Six homicides have been reported in the 19 days since the emergency was declared.

Amber Owens, 21, said yesterday that extending the curfew will do little to curb the violence.

“I don’t really think it’ll help matters,” Miss Owens said as she carried her 8-month-old son, Taequan, through Northwest. “There’s a curfew in effect now, and nobody’s paying attention to it.”

Alexander Hogan, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in the Columbia Heights area of Northwest, called the curfew a “temporary solution.”

“I can see the reasoning, but there needs to be some sort of long-term solution,” he said. “We need more of a police presence, and they need to respond to the issues as the come up. I’m not sure what the obstacle to that is.”

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