DENVER — Denver’s SafeNite Curfew Program is trying to educate families after young people expressed a lack of education about the law.
The law came under scrutiny last year after concerns about discrimination. A Denver Post analysis found 67 percent of the youth cited for curfew violations were Latino, although they only make up 41 percent of the 15-17-year-old population.
“Denver has had a curfew ordinance in place since 1994,” said Public Safety’s Executive Director Troy Riggs. “Last year there was some discussion about whether or not the city’s curfew program was serving its purpose and if young people in certain areas of the city were being unfairly targeted.”
So this year the program did something new and spoke to young people in a workgroup.
“What we heard overwhelmingly from the kids is they don’t want to get rid of curfew they just want to make sure people know about it and that they understand the exceptions to the rule,” said Pat Hedrick with Public Safety Youth Programs.
Those signs you see around town and social media posts by Denver police are all in an effort to get the word out about curfew.
The law states kids between 10 and 17 cannot be in a public place without an adult after 11 p.m. on school nights and midnight on weekends.
“Young people who are out past curfew doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad kid or doing anything wrong," Hedrick said. "But we do know that there is a significant amount of crime that can occur during curfew hours and this is just one way we can keep kids safe.”
Young people who are caught will be taken to juvenile services, and their parents will be contacted.
They have a choice to go to court and possibly pay a fine or complete a diversion program. Once the program is complete, the citation will not appear on their record.
Citations for curfew have decreased over the last few years from 520 citations in 2016 to 374 citations in 2018.
Studies have found there is no evidence that youth curfews reduce crime and or victimization of young people.