Hartford Police will continue their strict enforcement of the city’s curfew ordinance for at least another 30 days, through October 14, Police Chief Daryl Roberts announced Tuesday.
Strict enforcement of the curfew began on August 14 after a weekend in which 11 people were shot in Hartford, one of them fatally. Under the law, which has actually been on the books for several years but rarely enforced, no person under the age of 18 is allowed on the streets after 9 pm unless accompanied by an adult or guardian.
“Right now it [the curfew] has been a success,” said Roberts, “although it’s certainly not a panacea. Much more needs to be done in terms of programming for our youth. But first and foremost we need to maintain a safe environment for our young people...Besides, now that school has started, children should be home preparing for school, not out in the streets. Education is the key.”
According to Hartford Police, 131 people have been picked up for violating the curfew since August 14. 119 were issued written warnings, 10 were issued summons and two were placed under custodial arrest. There were only four repeat offenders, said Roberts.
10 of the curfew violators were from outside Hartford: four from Wethersfield, three from Windsor and one each from Manchester, Bloomfield and Each Hartford.
Roberts said his decision to extend enforcement of the curfew has “the full blessing of the Mayor” and indeed, Mayor Eddie Perez has stated that he feels the curfew is “working better than anticipated.” Last week, Perez said, “The curfew is working perfectly because parents and guardians are stepping up and doing what they’re supposed to do ...and it hasn’t placed as much of a drain on police resources as I thought it would.”
Roberts said he has heard no negative feedback from the community concerning the curfew. He added that he has received several positive e-mails, some suggesting that the curfew should be strictly enforced on a permanent basis but such a move is not being considered. “This was an emergency measure and we are continuing to treat it as such,” said Roberts.
North End resident Steve Harris said he has seen a difference in his neighborhood since the curfew was enacted in terms of reduced activity among youths on the streets after dark. However, like Roberts and Perez, he said the curfew is only part of the answer to the youth violence in Hartford. “For the time being, the curfew is one of the tools we should be using but it’s not the only one. We should be using all the tools,” said Harris.
However, community activist Hyacinth Yennie said last week that she hadn’t seen a significant decrease in youth activity after dark in the Barry Square neighborhood since enforcement of the curfew began. “Until you focus on the whole city, it’s not really working,” said Yennie.
Roberts said the curfew is being enforced throughout the city, although there are more offenders in some neighborhoods than others.