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Readers Debate the Value of Curfew Sweeps

Catch up on the discussion following our investigation of San Diego’s curfew sweeps by checking out 10 comments from residents, police and advocates.

 

My story last week about San Diego’s increased use of curfew sweeps stirred a passionate discussion.

Proponents have long said the sweeps are responsible for a recent drop in juvenile crime, but our analysis of five years of crime trends questions whether that’s true. Places without the sweeps have reported equal or greater drops in crime than those with them.

For a fuller perspective of what people are saying in the community, here’s a collection of comments and feedback from readers, police and elected officials.

Carolina Grajales, in an interview with the Media Arts Center of San Diego during a curfew sweep in City Heights last month:

I got caught up for curfew and I was in the same position as all these people. I thought it was dumb. I’m like, “Why am I here? There’s no point. I wasn’t going to get hurt.” And then I went to diversion programs and I saw a lot of different things and I was like, “Whoa, what if I would’ve got raped or killed or something?” Now I don’t skip class and I’m doing good in school and I’m not out past 10.

Christopher Yanov, founder and president of Reality Changers, a nonprofit aiming to deter gang violence, in the story comments:

If we spent more resources figuring out “how to keep the lights on” by providing more positive activities for these youth, then we wouldn’t need the curfew sweeps in the first place.

• Asst. Police Chief Boyd Long, who oversees patrol operations and was quoted in the story, in an email to me (used with permission):

Because of these operations, many families that were not, are now engaged with their kids and are less likely to have the heartache associated with their kids being involved in criminal activity as a victim or a suspect, narcotics usage or even worse. Your story failed to identify what I clearly portrayed in that this police department cares for the kids in our communities. We work hard to assure for their safety and the curfew sweeps are just one piece of the effort.

Karla Jensen in the story comments of “Curfew Sweeps Hit the Airwaves“:

Instead of asking whether or not the police are conducting curfew sweeps fairly, we should be demanding to know why we even have juvenile curfews in the first place. There are many concerns that should be addressed regarding juvenile curfew laws; are they really protecting the public, are they really protecting our youth, are they fairly applied, and do the benefits (if any) outweigh the financial costs to taxpayers or the price paid by our youth when they lose their liberties?

• City Councilman Todd Gloria, who represents neighborhoods stretching from Hillcrest to City Heights, in a written statement:

It is difficult to quantify crimes that are never committed or a young person who is not a victim of a crime thanks to this preventative approach to law enforcement. It is also impossible to measure the value of the strengthened relationships between the police and the community that also result from the curfew sweeps. Because of its proactive and preventative approach, because it empowers citizens to partner with law enforcement, and because it leverages scarce city, school district and nonprofit resources, I stand by my assertion that this program is government at its best.

Kevin Keenan, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s local branch, on his Facebook page:

ACLU has long opposed curfews and successfully sued over San Diego’s first one. Keegan’s reporting shows once again there is no evidence they are helping and some evidence that they are not helping. But, what struck me anew was the photos of all these kids in handcuffs… for what? being out late? Whatever the other effects — what about the psychological effect and societal message of putting so many kids from only certain communities in handcuffs.

Susan Taylor in the story comments:

Does this mean that all minors in, say Rancho Bernardo or Peñasquitos or La Jolla are in no danger of being “cuffed,” since they don’t live in inner city neighborhoods? Isn’t anyone else concerned just a little about the profiling going on here?

Quentin Crisp in the story comments:

I think it is good that police are taking firm steps in these neighborhoods where crime is rampant. These children are the criminals of the future and the sooner police can make contact with them the easier it will be to catch them once they start raping and murdering. The only downside is that our prisons are so overcrowded that too often the laws have no teeth. We should build more prisons. It would stimulate the economy – contractors, construction, architects, correction officers, medics, etc would be in demand and our neighborhoods would be rid of undesirables.

Diana Ross, collaborative director at Mid-City CAN, in a letter published by voiceofsandiego.org, “Too Many Kids in Handcuffs“:

The first (troubling issue) is a purely practical one: Why is San Diego spending so much of the police department’s time and dwindling resources on a program that is at best unproven and at worst counterproductive? In this era of diminishing funding for government programs, shouldn’t there be some minimum evidence of effectiveness and accountability before the department launches large-scale programs like the curfew sweep?

The second issue Kyle’s story raises is more troubling. What about the civil rights implications of targeting the parts of San Diego where there is the most poverty and highest number of people of color?

Theresa Quiroz in the story comments:

The whole argument once again revolves around the belief of those outside of City Heights that we do not deserve any kind of resources spent on us, that as a minority community we should not be helped, that we are incapable of making good decisions for ourselves, and that when something good does happen in our community, it should immediately be shot down.

I want to thank the police, the social services, the educators and the non-profits who have been working so hard in our community to help the children who find themselves out on the streets when it is most dangerous. They have done an incredible job, and do not deserve this unfounded criticism.

So what do you think about San Diego’s curfew sweeps? Please add your thoughts to this fascinating discussion in the comments section below or shoot me an email.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about local government, creates infographics and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

 

 

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