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Police chief on earlier teen curfew: City ‘on the verge of a crisis’

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INDIANAPOLIS — During a community conversation over a proposal to shorten the city’s weekend curfew, Police Chief Rick Hite warned of an impending crisis among youth.

City-county councilors discussed the curfew proposal at a rules committee meeting Tuesday. Instead of the usual format, the meeting was moved into the community in order to solicit more feedback.

“At the end of the day, these are the kids who are going to grow up and be our neighbors. They’re going to run our city. They’re going to run our government,” City-County Councilor Vop Osili said.

It was that impassioned plea, among many others, that brought a full room together to talk about youth violence.

The proposal would move the Marion County curfew for teens 15-17 years old on the weekends from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Perhaps the loudest voice of all was Chief Rick Hite, who pointed out last summer’s heightened youth crime, including a 16-year-old who was shot to death in a fight outside Circle Centre Mall and recent murder2s committed by teens.

“A continual trend we’re starting to see (is) young people being brazen with weapons. We’re also seeing that the young people who are out there who are innocent are being preyed upon and victimized,” Hite said.

Parent Marvin Taylor, who showed up to the meeting to give his opinion, keeps his 12- and 17-year-olds on their own family curfew.

“Why wouldn’t you want the kids in the house at a reasonable hour? The parents do have to stand up, we do have to impose stricter curfews,” Taylor said.

As you might expect, teens themselves aren’t so happy about the proposal. Katie Billman, a senior at Lawrence Central, polled her classmates for an article in the school paper and found that most of them stay out past 11 on the weekends.

“For most of the underclassmen it is a hot topic and something that really will affect them,” Billman said.

Still, most of the meeting’s testimony focused on the need for more resources and programs devoted to helping struggling teens and their families, instead of punishing them.

“What we need is some services and the problem is, no one wants to put dollars behind programs,” Rev. Michael Jones said.

Ultimately, the committee tabled a vote on the proposal, deciding instead to take testimony and consider whether the curfew alone is enough to tackle the issue of teen violence.

City-county councilors encourage you to ask them question or weigh in on the issue by contacting them. You can find their information here.