Mayor Eddie A. Perez has decided to extend the citywide curfew on teenagers by another 30 days, saying he believes it's working to stem the tide of violence in Hartford streets.
But the jury on the curfew's effectiveness is very much out.
The curfew requires anyone 18 and younger to be off the streets between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. It was imposed Aug. 14 after three weekend shooting incidents, including one in which gunmen fired into a crowd late in the afternoon of the city's annual West Indian Day parade. Seven people were wounded in that incident, one fatally.
City officials say the curfew, part of a broader initiative targeting gun-related crimes, is meant to protect Hartford's youth and increase parental accountability. Since it went into effect, 119 youths have been issued written warnings for violating the curfew. Four repeat violators have been given citations.
But is it working? Using Hartford police crime statistics for 12 days before the curfew and 16 days after, Chief Daryl Roberts says the number of people shot in the city dropped 54.2 percent.
Findings by The Courant aren't quite as dramatic. Using the police statistics for the three-week period before the curfew, Hartford reported six shootings and 16 victims; three weeks after the curfew, there were eight shootings and nine victims. That's a 44 percent decline in victims, but an increase in shootings.
Meanwhile, the total number of other reported crimes — rapes, assaults and auto thefts — during the three-week periods went up, from 465 before the curfew to 479 after.
We'd expect officials to say their curfew is working. Yet the results aren't clear, and the effort could be draining resources in the fight against other crimes.
The best defense against teenagers with guns is one that aims to reduce teen pregnancy and give Hartford's youth more educational opportunities, job training and jobs.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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