Del. Kirill Reznik's testimony

    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 County law. 

    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 ours.   

    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 few. 

    This bill is unnecessary, it is demeaning to the youth of our County, and it deserves a “no” vote. 

    Thank you for your time.