In the fall of 2006, people in the City of New Haven began to discuss the implementation of a youth curfew as a solution to reduce youth crime. The debate was carried into the early part of 2007 and youth groups, community leaders, and other city officials decided to spend more energy on an effective means for controlling youth crime – prevention. One of the best ways to prevent youth crime is through preventive programing and effective community policing through partnerships.
Like Bridgeport, New Haven began to toy with the idea after the homicides of 13 year-old African-American female J. Cole and 13 year-old African-American male J. Suggs were slain during the summer months of 2006. Yes, the African-American community was outraged and hurt. However, they pulled together and came up with tangible solutions to addressing the issues that contribute to urban gun violence. Some of those effective programs and ideas were spearheaded by New Haven police officers on and off duty.
As an advocate for community policing, one of the best way to reduce urban gun violence is through effective partnerships between the community and its police department. It may sound “corny” but it is about police officers regularly walking the beat in the same neighborhood and personally interacting with the community on a day-to-day basis. The officers do not have to be of any particular ethnic background. However, they must be trained on “how to properly interact with people of color.” They also need to care and be accessible to the community via phone and email. In 2012, every urban police department must have “community point people.” These are officers who because of their ethnic, or religious, background they can go into specific areas and speak the language of the people. They can motivate grass-roots leaders. These are your officers who “get it done behind the scenes.” I know from my experiences of dealing with urban gun violence the affected community tends to close the ranks based on their ethnicity as the violence escalates.
Some issues that will likely hamper the Bridgeport Curfew is that unless there is specific data to indicate youth crimes occurred mainly before 11pm, the crimes will likely continue except before 11pm. In addition, I have studied youth crime patterns that have changed when school is in session and youth tend get involved in crimes mostly during the day. In addition, tremendous amounts of police resources are needed to enforce any type of curfew. Youth curfew enforcement could severely drive the crime reduction price tag. The potential total cost to implement the curfew may prove more costly in both tax dollars and hope.