Curfew plan gets hearing, but no vote

IMPD Chief Rick Hite addresses the crowd at the curfew hearing.

City leaders are calling for a stricter curfew to keep teens off the streets and out of trouble. But even the chief of police is raising serious questions about who will enforce it and at what cost.

Monquize Edwards was shot downtown July 4th night.

His mother Penika says "there is not a day that goes by that I don't think of him. I miss him a lot. He was not only my son, he was a friend."

The night of that shooting, City-County Councilor Jeff Miller says "that was the moment I went, 'I have to do something.'"

Now, a City-County Council committee is wrestling with Miller's proposal to tightening curfew rules - 11 p.m. for everyone, every night.

"I think it's wonderful and I hope it passes," Penika Edwards said. "Monquize was shot at 11 p.m. If he wasn't down there, I believe he would still be with me today."

"We're here to talk about what we're going to do about young people as we go forward," said IMPD Chief Rick Hite. "Because we're not going to have another summer like we had last year."

At the hearing on the proposal, Hite didn't reject the tougher curfew, but said more programs are needed to help the kids his cops pick up, and help their sometimes-troubled families, too. He says he doesn't have the troops to do everything.

Hite asked the committee, "Do you want us to chase people with guns or do you want us to hold hands with children all summer?"

"When these kids are arrested and say, 'Take me home, nobody cares about me.' And that's the big message here is they don't feel like anybody cares about them," said Jenny Young with the Juvenile Court's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.

But a neighborhood barber summed it up another way.

"If it can get some kids off of the streets and let the officers do their job to go after the people who are committing the crime, I think amending the curfew is an effective tool," he said.

But not just a curfew for minorities. As one pastor said "there seems to be this passion to protect downtown and this profound neglect to be concerned about other areas of town."

The panel voted to put off a vote for now. A vote could come at the next meeting May 27. The full City-County Council would have to vote on the issue as well.