Madam President and members of the
County Council, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you in
strong opposition to Expedited Bill 25-11, a bill to establish a curfew
for youth under 18 years of age in Montgomery County. For the
record, my name is Kirill Reznik, and I am a State Delegate who represents
District 39 in the Maryland General Assembly.
In the short time I have before you,
I would like to highlight 3 brief points in opposition of this proposed
The first point is financial. Though teenagers do not pack the financial wallop of their parents or even their 20-something peers, limiting their ability to stay out late at night and patronize movie theaters, all-night diners, video game arcades (yes there is still one in the county), and other businesses, will not help small businesses in our County recover any quicker. In fact, forcing small business owners, through this bill, to police their own establishments is counter-productive. Two weeks ago, my wife and I went to the midnight premier of the last Harry Potter movie. Normally, we patronize movie theaters closer to our home in the upcounty, but they were all sold out. We went to the movie theater at the White Flint Mall. I’m a little embarrassed to admit, we were the oldest people in the theater. Most of the patrons were unaccompanied minors. Under this law, imagine the revenue loss, both to the businesses and to the County’s own coffers.
The second point, is the sheer impracticality
of this law. Are we really considering asking police officers
to distinguish between 17 year olds and 19 year olds; harassing adults
who look like underage minors, burdening the police processing facilities
and HHS with good kids who are out late at night, forcing parents in
to parenting classes because their kids are out late or businesses into
curfew police when they would much rather sell another movie ticket
and hamburger? Are we really willing to fine families, assign
community service, and otherwise create, if not a criminal record, than
a court record, for an otherwise good teenager that could eventually
follow them to college and a professional career?
If the real goal here is to reduce
crime, then let’s use the tools you have, laws against trespassing,
nuisance, vandalism, loitering, etc. If teenagers are causing
trouble, the patrons, neighbors, and business owners can still call
the police. And if these tools are not sufficient, then strengthen
them, but do not use a chainsaw to remove a splinter.
Which brings me to my last point.
There is an underlying civil rights issue here that initially sparked
my ire and brought me before you. In no other aspects of crime
prevention would we ever consider discriminating against a whole subset
of the population to reduce crime that was being perpetrated by a tiny
fracture of that group. Without even seeing current crime statistics,
I would bet that men commit crimes far more than women. Why not
impose a curfew on all men? But this body would never even think
to impose such limits based on gender, or race, religion or national
origin. Then why age? A cynic might think that is might
have something to do with the fact that none of the people in question
are eligible to vote for the people making the laws. However,
I can assure you that the 5,000+ individuals signed up on Facebook in
protest of this bill and all of the teenagers sitting here today will
all be eligible voters by 2014, and because they are as young as they
are, I can also assure you that their memories are probably better than
The leadership of this County claim
without reservation that we produce the best students from the best
high schools in the country. If that is the case, then we should have
enough faith in them to be out past 11pm. If there are concerns with
crime, then we need to put resources into what actually works; more
education, more after-school and job training programs, and stepped
up police presence where crime takes place, and not trample on the constitutional
rights of an entire class of people because of the actions of a small
This bill is unnecessary, it is demeaning
to the youth of our County, and it deserves a “no” vote.
Thank you for your time.