A limited crowd gathered at the mayor’s office conference room on July 30. The purpose was to sign an ordinance approved by the City Council a few days before. The ordinance forbids youths under the age of 18 from being on the streets after 11 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and from midnight Fridays, to 6 a.m. on Sundays.
Mayor Bill Finch said, “The councilmen and councilwomen have worked hard for more than seven months to cover all aspects” of the ordinance. He said the ordinance was necessary because of the wave of violent crime in the past few weeks, much of it involving guns. He added that he met with pastors, school personnel and parents. They all agreed that strict measures should be taken to prevent more violence.
Although the ordinance is in place, it will take approximately one month to be implemented, said the mayor. “It’s necessary for training police officers, meeting with parents, talking to school principals and other organizations to put everything in place.”
Finch also said it’s important to talk to social services agencies to discuss steps to follow with offenders who could not be released and sent home late at night. Bridgeport Police Capt. Robert Gearing said logistics and procedures are very important.
The ordinance was approved by the City Council on July 27. Kids younger than 18 can’t be on the streets past 11 on week nights and midnight on weekends. The ordinance applies to private organizations such as stores, restaurants, theaters and bowling places.
Some organizations holding extracurricular activities will be exempt. Some of them are schools, churches and clubs.
The mayor said that the hours the ordinance covers include those when more crimes are executed. Youngsters are permitted to be on the streets if they have a note from their parents.
The document says that the parents of youngsters who violate the ordinance the first time will receive a warning. After that, the parent or guardian will face a fine ranging from $25 to $99. If a youngster violates the ordinance three times or more, patrol officers can report the person to the chief of police as “a young man who needs supervision.” The police chief can formulate charges with the state authority. Gearing noted that the police department wants to keep the youngsters out of the criminal system.
The ordinance could be treated by any official. “No officer will be assigned to work on the ordinance,” said Gearing.
Simon Castillo, pastor at Iglesia El Buen Pastor, who is a police commissioner, said the ordinance is a good measure to prevent crimes.
The city’s health director, Kristin duBay, said if a child is on the streets at 2 a.m. it’s because something is wrong at home.
At the press conference were mmbers of the City Council’s Ordinance Committee including Warren Blunt, Michelle Lyon, and Leticia Colón. Also were present were Carolyn Vermont, president of the Bridgeport chapter of the NAACP, and Charles Tisdale, executive director of ABCD, the city’s anti-poverty agency.
The Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has said it opposes the curfew.