Montgomery County Council Member Phil Andrews, chairman of the  Public Safety Committee
has come out forcefully AGAINST the proposed youth curfew. Thank you, Council Member Andrews!! Read his entire op-ed in The Gazette: Montgomery Council should reject youth curfew (September 7, 2011).

"...The council should reject Leggett’s proposal for a permanent youth curfew — a proposal which falsely signals that crime and youth in the County are out of control, when crime is actually down and the overwhelming majority of youth are law-abiding. The council will continue working with him and Chief Manger to employ reasonable and proven strategies to fighting crime..."
Also, Montgomery legislator shores up opposition to curfew bill (Washington Post 10/18/11)

The Montgomery County County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations -- representing 189 local PT(S)As and their over 55,000 parents, teachers, and community supporters -- has passed a resolution in opposition to legislation of a limited youth curfew in Montgomery County.

"WHEREAS, laws already exist for police to deal with suspicious behavior. Imposing a law on the entire population of Montgomery County youth when the culprit exists in a small segment of the county is unjustifiable."

The American Civil Liberties Union is on our side, issuing this statement:

"The ACLU of Maryland has long opposed juvenile curfew ordinances as a violation of fundamental liberties of innocent people. They criminalize innocent conduct and infringe on the rights of both young people and their parents. Curfews, at their core, essentially place everyone in a particular demographic under "house arrest" for the actions of a minority. And past experience has shown us the real risks of racial profiling in curfew law enforcement, which must not be tolerated. "

The National Youth Rights Association has offered their support, saying:

Montgomery County, MD joins the sadly growing list of communities considering making it illegal to be young and outside." 

They've helped us gather petitions, and supported us in the press

The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition is an ally.

We are individuals and organizations organizing to protect our civil liberties and civil rights everywhere by protecting them where we live — in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The Poolesville Town Commission has come out against the curfew.

 The Poolesville Town Commission will send a letter to the county stating its concerns about the proposed county teen curfew.

 “The commission doesn’t see evidence of its effectiveness,” President Paul “Eddie” Kuhlman II summarized Monday night.

Commissioners worry that if police are tied up enforcing a curfew in Germantown, they will have fewer officers available to respond to calls in Poolesville.

The Rockville City Council has also come out against the curfew.

City Council member Mark Pierzchala agreed with County Council member Andrews that the facts do not warrant the need for a curfew. “I share your views that the data doesn’t support it. I think where Rockville has to be careful is if the county does adopt it and Rockville doesn’t. That could create some confusion,” said Pierzchala.

“I’m not in favor of the curfew,” said City Council member Bridget Donnell Newton. “I think we need to find more opportunities for teens to participate in healthy activities as an alternative and not a restrictive solution like a curfew. I hope you don’t pass it because it puts us in a tough spot.”

“We don’t want to jump on this when we haven’t seen any related problems in Rockville. I think we want to see what the county does first. We will adopt a wait and see attitude,” said City Council member Piotr Gajewski.

Daniel Macallair with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice has testified against the effectiveness of curfews, making the statement:

"Counties with strict youth curfews witnessed no decrease in youth crime relative to counties without strict curfews"

The Montgomery Action Committee for Public Transit opposes the curfew!  Read their full stance on their website.

"It is apparent that the curfew would be enforced against teenagers on foot or in public transit, but not in cars.  Not only is this discriminatory, but teenagers will drive to avoid the curfew. Putting rowdy teenagers on the roads late at night will certainly not make the county safer."

Mike Rosenwald of The Washington Post asked, "Do curfew laws actually work?"  Answer: Curfews apparently don’t work well, if at all.

"A quick search through some academic studies on Google Scholar produced results such as this, from the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science: “The evidence does not support the argument that curfews prevent crime and victimization. Juvenile crime and victimization are most likely to remain unchanged after implementation of curfew laws.

Also,, a consortium of researchers and reporters who fact-check politician’s claims, recently awarded a “mostly true” badge on its truth-o-meter to this quote from criminologist Mike Males: “There’s pretty much no question that [the curfew ordinances] aren’t effective in either reducing crime or preventing harm to young people.” Politifact’s summary of the research is here."

Montgomery County Council member George Leventhal
is a co-sponsor of an alternate to the curfew, an anti-loitering bill.  His top concern is that Montgomery County Police officials do not plan to apply a curfew uniformly, but rather assess whether teenagers are exhibiting certain types of behavior before asking them to go home. He believes that the anti-loitering bill puts the focus where it should be--on behavior rather than a person's age.

Dan Reed, lifelong Silver Spring resident, author of the blog Just Up The Pike and contributor to Greater Greater Washington writes:

"I drive down Beach Drive often, and right before Connecticut Avenue there's graffiti on the underside of the Duke Ellington Bridge that says "those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." Compromises? I'm sorry, but giving police officers the ability to detain anyone just for being out after a certain hour, regardless of whether they did anything wrong, isn't a compromise.

    Everyone agrees that we want a safe downtown Silver Spring/downtown Bethesda/Montgomery County. But I disagree that a curfew is the way to make it happen."

Dan recently made the following video to counter the vague-yet-sinister video of the July 1-2 "flashmob rumble" repeatedly being screened by the police at community meetings:

What does Silver Spring look like when it burns?

Local political blogger and activist David Moon of Maryland Juice asks: "Is Montgomery County unknowingly invoking a Willie Horton strategy to push a youth curfew?"

"County leaders have taken to using the now-famous Germantown flash mob video to persuade a skeptical public to submit to fines and parenting classes for adults whose children are caught outside at night. See, for example, the article below in the Gaithersburg Patch..."

He goes on to state that "this strategy is problematic (and just plain silly) for a number of reasons...

"...Knowingly or unknowingly, I think using this type of footage as the trailer for a legislative proposal, risks crossing the line into Willie Horton territory. In fact, their use of this strategy at all raises serious questions to me about whether the County can be trusted to guard against racial profiling in curfew enforcement."

David also wrote this biting analysis of the curfew issue on September 21 and this one on October 24.

Student Member of the Board of Education Alan Xie thinks that:

"Some studies have shown that curfews have no correlation to the number of crimes committed. Essentially we would be restricting our kids from doing what they want because a minority of the demographic has committed crime...."

When the proposed curfew was first announced this August, Council Member Hans Riemer made this great comment about the proposal:

"Why stop with a curfew? Why not just make MCPS a boarding school? The only argument for a curfew I have seen is to keep kids from DC and PG out, since they have curfews there. Seems awful unfair to our own."

Unfortunately, he has subsequently said that he supports the curfew.

Beth, a Silver Spring resident
and mother of two young adults, shared her story on local list serves about how important the already tenuous relationship between the police and minors is:

"My kids and their friends were at our church for a Saturday evening coffee house and open mike night. After leaving at 10 pm, they went to McDonalds in Gaithersburg. This restaurant had recently changed the traffic pattern in their parking lot and created a one-way drive.  My kids were confused and drove the wrong way out of the parking lot after eating. A police officer saw them and pulled them over on 355 with lights and sirens. When he asked why they were out at 11pm, they said that they had finished an activity at church. Clearly, the officer didn't believe them and got very angry. He called in back-up and the kids were rousted, frisked and the car was searched without their permission. Since this type of thing is a regular occurrence in their lives, they forgot to even tell me about it while there was a chance of learning the officers' names. Because they have been pulled over so often for Driving While Teen, they no longer trust the police for anything. ANYTHING.

 When another driver repeatedly tried to drive my son off the road, he sought refuge in our church parking lot about a mile away. The other driver had to be chased off by our minister and the maintenance man. Did the kids call 911 during the chase? No. And they didn't even call after the incident. Or bother to mention it to me. My minister told me about it a week later and we both found this to be the most disturbing part of the whole incident. My kids are normally very feisty but they eventually came to accept that being stopped, frisked and having their cars searched is just  the price of Driving While Teen.

A curfew is just going to make it easier for cops to hassle teens. I taught my kids the cops are their friends and should be called in any serious situation. Life taught them the opposite. "

Judith Arbacher, a Silver Spring parent of two and concerned resident, had this to say:

"Under the proposed legislation, an officer can order a youth to go home[ according to the police, not the text of the bill]. If the youth moves on (anywhere? to the next corner?), that's it. That doesn't seem to me to provide the police with an "additional tool for major gang fights" (quoted from a police officer at Safe Silver Spring) .  And it certainly doesn't warrant taking parenting decisions out of my hands."