C.F. will re­con­sider ju­ve­nile cur­few

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BIS­SON­NETTE jbis­son­[email protected]­tuck­et­times.com

CEN­TRAL FALLS – Mayor James A. Diossa said he’ll work closely with the new City Coun­cil once it is seated next month to de­ter­mine if the time has come to re­peal the city’s ju­ve­nile cur­few or­di­nance and Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Robert Ferri says he’s in fa­vor of re­mov­ing it from the books.

The mayor’s com­ments to The Times came one day after the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Rhode Is­land and the Cen­tral Falls-based Pro­greso Latino an­nounced in a joint press re­lease that they are urg­ing Diossa and the coun­cil to re­peal the con­tested or­di­nance, ar­gu­ing that cur­fews don’t re­duce crime and may un­der­mine pub­lic safety.

Diossa in a mes­sage to The Times on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon said that he asked City So­lic­i­tor Matthew Jerzyk to work with Cen­tral Falls Po­lice Chief Col. James J. Men­donca to “ex­am­ine the le­gal and pol­icy is­sues rel­a­tive to the cur­few” fol­low­ing an ini­tial ACLU in­quiry in Oc­to­ber.

“Since the cur­few was im­ple­mented in 2008, we have made sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in our po­lice-com­mu­nity re­la­tions through the cre­ation of a com­mu­nity polic­ing unit, the hir­ing of more di­verse of­fi­cers, the staffing of school re­source of­fi­cers, and greater out­reach and after-school op­por­tu­ni­ties for our youth,” Diossa said. “I in­tend to work closely with the new City Coun­cil in Jan­uary see if it is time to re­peal the cur­few.”

Cen­tral Falls’ ju­ve­nile cur­few or­di­nance pro­hibits any­one who is un­der the age of 18 and un­ac­com­pa­nied by an adult to be out be­tween 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Ju­ve­niles found in vi­o­la­tion of the or­di­nance will be first is­sued a writ­ten warn­ing by po­lice and turned over to the cus­tody of their

par­ents. For the first of­fense by the par­ent, the fine is $100, and for each sub­se­quent of­fense, the fine in­creases by an ad­di­tional $100.

Ferri on Thurs­day said he’s cer­tainly for re­peal­ing the or­di­nance, as he’s never been a fan of the cur­few as it “puts a bur­den on the Po­lice Depart­ment.”

“I think it’s a par­ent­ing thing, know­ing where your child is at all times,” Ferri said. “I’d cer­tainly be for re­peal­ing it and I’ve never been a fan of it.”

“I read the ACLU’s con­cerns and Pro­greso Latino’s con­cerns. To put an age on some­thing like that, I’m just not for it and I never have been for it … I never be­lieved in the cur­few, not in Cen­tral Falls or for that mat­ter any­where in this area...” Ferri added. “My feel­ing is I’m all for re­peal­ing it. I don’t think it’s nec­es­sary, I think the city’s do­ing so well. I think it’s safe out there, I re­ally do. I like what’s go­ing on in the city right now.”

In the city’s or­di­nances, the ju­ve­nile cur­few was en­acted to pro­mote the gen­eral wel­fare and pro­tect the gen­eral pub­lic through the re­duc­tion of ju­ve­nile vi­o­lence and crime within the city; pro­mote the safety and well-be­ing of the city’s youngest ci­ti­zens, whose life in­ex­pe­ri­ence ren­ders them vul­ner­a­ble to be­com­ing par­tic­i­pants in un­law­ful ac­tiv­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly drug and gang ac­tiv­i­ties, and to be­ing vic­tim­ized by older per­pe­tra­tors of crime; and to help fos­ter and strengthen parental re­spon­si­bil­ity for chil­dren.

How­ever, the ACLU of Rhode Is­land and Pro­greso Latino – in a three-page let­ter to the mayor – made their case for the city to re­scind the or­di­nance.

“Cur­few or­di­nances … lit­er­ally make every teenager out at night a sus­pect. More specif­i­cally, they make per­fectly in­no­cent ac­tiv­ity – walk­ing, talk­ing, or trav­el­ing out­side – il­le­gal,” the let­ter penned by ACLU of Rhode Is­land Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Steven Brown and Pro­greso Latino Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Mario Bueno reads. “By do­ing so, they give po­lice vir­tu­ally un­bri­dled dis­cre­tion to stop, de­tain, ha­rass, and search teenagers. This can only en­cour­age ar­bi­trary and dis­crim­i­na­tory en­force­ment.”

“Since the only de­ter­mi­nant of a per­son com­mit­ting this ‘of­fense’ is whether he or she is a cer­tain age, po­lice can stop any young-look­ing per­son they choose as a po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tor and de­mand proof of their age,” the let­ter con­tin­ues. “Since such proof is some­thing that many youth are un­likely to have, brief stops have the po­ten­tial to es­ca­late into con­fronta­tional en­coun­ters, cre­at­ing crimes where none ex­isted be­fore.”

While the or­di­nance in- cludes sev­eral ex­cep­tions for teens, in­clud­ing those at work, run­ning er­rands for a par­ent, on a side­walk di­rectly abut­ting where they live, or at­tend­ing a spon­sored ac­tiv­ity – lead­ing the let­ter to say it is “more thought­fully crafted than most” – the ACLU and Pro­greso Latino write: “we be­lieve that of all the in­ter­ven­tions to ad­dress the prob­lem of teenagers ‘hang­ing around do­ing noth­ing,’ po­lice and ju­di­cial in­volve­ment are among the most toxic and counter-pro­duc­tive.”

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