PETERSBURG, Va. -- Petersburg City Council has amended the curfew for anyone under the age of 18 nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in hopes of curbing crime and protecting young people from violence.
The vote came at the recommendation of Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian after recent violence has left people shot in cars, in homes, at doorsteps and in the streets.
The shootings and deaths prompted an outcry from the community. As a result, the curfew for anyone under 18 went into effect April 26 after a weekend where seven people, including three children, were shot. Minors must now be home by 10 p.m. after the curfew time was adjusted from 11 p.m.
“We want our kids to be safe. We want our community to be safe,” Christian said.
However, a 2016 study published by the non-profit Campbell Collaboration said “the pattern of evidence suggests that juvenile curfews are ineffective at reducing crime and victimization.”
Additionally, the Marshall Project wrote in 2017 that Austin, Texas, had decided “it was time to discard the curfew law.”
But the police chief said it was less about juvenile crime and more about protection.
“We’ve seen kids under the age of 18 and as young as 15 years old, are victims of homicides,” Christian said.
The police chief, who would like to see the curfew lowered to 8 p.m., said the ordinance was also aimed at parents.
“I think anytime that we can put something in place that we, put controls in place that holds the parents accountable, holds our citizens accountable, for where our children are at all times, it will help," Christian explained.
The chief said the curfew gives police the authority to pick up minors and take them home. He also said they could be charged with a misdemeanor.
Virginia State Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) said the curfew sends a message of zero tolerance.
“You're there, you're with a gun and you're operating illegally with a gun. People are going to be arrested and taken off the streets because our primary goal, primary goal, is to protect our citizenry,” Morrissey said.
With three small children of his own, James Farrar knows first-hand the dangers of gun violence.
“Several years ago, I was shot in the back of the head,” Farrar said. “And I know it’s because of the power of prayer, God protects you.”
Farrar acknowledged that the curfew will not be effective for all minors.
“Those are the ones that probably are part of the problem and not the solution,” Farrar said.
Latishia Trotter, the parent of a teenager, feels at least the city is trying something to address the violence.
“They’re still moving in the right direction to me,” Trotter said.
Trotter also pointed out that parents must be involved in their children’s lives.
“Let them know that violence is not the answer, but Jesus is,” she said.
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