DOWNTOWN — Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s push to move the city’s curfew for minors up an hour to 10 p.m. and include 17-year-olds is one step closer to becoming law.
The city’s Committee on Public Safety approved the proposed change 14-3 Friday. Alds. Roderick Sawyer (6th), Raymond Lopez (15th) and Matt Martin (47th) voted against the measure.
Lightfoot’s changes would move the curfew from to 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day. It would also expand it to include 17-year-olds. It currently applies to Chicagoans 12-16 years of age.
Lightfoot announced earlier this week that she’d push to move up the daily curfew after 16-year-old Seandell Holliday was killed near The Bean Saturday in a shooting that saw dozens of others arrested after hundreds of Black youth gathered Downtown. She also announced an executive order to ban unaccompanied minors from Millennium Park on weekend nights.
Chicago Police Lt. Mike Kapustianyk claimed the change would give police an “additional tool in the toolbox to engage young people” at “earlier hours.”
Lopez countered police haven’t used the current curfew to their advantage, pointing to data showing 364 minors were found in violation of the curfew in 2021.
The number of minors cited for curfew violations has trended down for years: 2,453 in 2018, 1,804 in 2019 and 635 in 2020, police officials said at the meeting.
“That’s barely one person a day,” Lopez said referring to 2021 numbers. “When we talk about having a tool in the toolbox, as you said in your opening remarks, we don’t use this tool, do we?”
Lopez said the city needed a better strategy and that he didn’t want to see officers pulled out from his ward to be on “curfew patrol” Downtown.
Despite repeated questions, Lightfoot has declined to say what exact consequences teens will face if they defy the ban or curfew. In a press conference Monday, she said city officials would “exhaust all other options before they take law enforcement actions.”
In an executive order filed Tuesday, city officials said police will use “de-escalation and dispersal tools” and “only after those efforts fail” will officers arrest people.
A clause in the curfew crackdown would exempt teens coming home from music fests like Lollapalooza and other ticketed events.
Some aldermen slammed the curfew push as “outdated” and “ineffective” Friday, pointing to research that shows curfews don’t reduce crime. A 2016 study by the Campbell Collaboration argued curfews are “unlikely to be a meaningful solution to juvenile crime.”
When the curfew was pushed up an hour to 11 p.m. in Washington, D.C., gun violence increased, according to a 2015 study.
“We’re basing crime prevention on hunches and on outdated strategies that to be quite fair, aren’t effective,” said Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd).
Asked if the city had considered or studied any research on the negative impact of juvenile curfews on crime, officials said no. Asked to produce data supporting the city’s use of the juvenile curfew, Deputy Mayor John O’Malley said the city didn’t have any to produce.
“I don’t have a staff of 25 people to jump on this,” O’Malley said. “What’s being asked here is to change the current curfew ordinance by one hour. Maybe I’m missing something here, that it’s a bigger ask or a bigger step than we’re being asked to take.”
Although most aldermen questioned the need to change the curfew, some said they would support it if it meant saving “at least one person’s life.”
“Do we really need research?” Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) said. “We’re potentially looking at a pretty bad June, July and August in our city. So, something is better than nothing … this is going to help us with the mobs.”
The City Council will vote on the curfew proposal Wednesday.
The current curfew for minors under 12, which is 8:30 pm Sunday through Thursday and 9:00 p.m. Friday through Saturday, would remain the same
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: