Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said enforcement of a youth curfew will be extended through the end of the year, saying it has helped protect children and also coincided with a drop in crime in the Maryland county.
When Alsobrooks first announced stronger enforcement of the youth curfew on Labor Day, she said it would last for 30 days but could be extended.
“Our curfew was successful in many of the ways we hoped,” Alsobrooks said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, after the initial 30-day period. “Not only did we engage parents in our community more deeply, but we were also able to provide greater protection to a number of our youth.”
The curfew requires teens under 17 to be off the streets between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 11:59 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Under the curfew, parents can be fined if their children violate the curfew.
Over the past 30 days, the police department reported just four curfew violations. Incidents included a 16-year-old girl who was with another teen arrested on a gun charge and a 14-year-old who had stolen his mother’s car and was out joy riding at 1:30 a.m., according to authorities.
In each of the four violations reported by police, parents were issued a warning but were not fined. Alsobrooks said families were also offered resources through the Hope in Action coalition.
At the time the curfew was rolled out, Alsobrooks described the measure as an emergency move after the county saw in August its highest monthly homicides in decades, and amid a steep rise in carjackings committed by juveniles.
The county executive said Tuesday that focused enforcement of the youth curfew — which has been on the books since 1995 — led to a “substantial improvement in our crime numbers.”
Overall, crime fell by 13% in the county during the period, including a 24% reduction in violent crime, said Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz on Tuesday.
Specifically during the overnight curfew hours, the county saw a 20% drop in overall crime, a 59% drop in carjackings and a 50% drop in shootings, he said.
Officials acknowledged it’s too soon to attribute the drop in crime solely to the curfew.
“I think all of us would agree it’s probably premature to say that was the exact reason,” Alsobrooks said, pointing to other steps taken by the police department over the past 30 days, including additional overtime.
“But we are encouraged by the results that we have seen,” Alsobrooks said.
She said officials would revisit the curfew at the end of the year, but wanted to keep it in place through the holidays, when there is typically an increase in crime.
When the curfew was rolled out last month, it was quickly criticized by some who feared it would lead to confrontations between young people and police. Some experts also said research had shown youth curfews were not effective in reducing crime.
Alsobrooks said the goal of stricter enforcement of the curfew was not to be punitive or to send officers out “to hunt down kids. That’s never been the objective.”
Aziz, the police chief, said reports from officers on the beat indicated they did not see as many young people in typical late-night gathering places during the curfew hours.
“What we can say is that a behavior was changed,” Aziz said.
He added, “We don’t believe that the curfew is a panacea, a total resolution. … There are many solutions to a problem, and this is one.”