Inglewood Explores Reviving Juvenile Curfew to Curb Gangs

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In an effort to turn up the pressure on teen-age gangs, some Inglewood officials are exploring ways to make the city's juvenile curfew ordinance more effective.

City Councilman Jose Fernandez said he will introduce an ordinance to require parents to pay a $35 fine if their children are caught violating the curfew.

Mayor Edward Vincent has asked the Police Department to step up enforcement of the city's existing curfew ordinance, which calls for violators to be fined up to $1,000. The ordinance is rarely enforced, according to city officials. Under the existing ordinance, juveniles caught loitering on the streets between 10 p.m. and sunrise can be arrested.

The proposals follow another City Council effort to reduce gang problems through an ordinance that would ban gang members from some city parks. City staff members are working on a draft of the ordinance.

The Police Department is enthusiastic about the new interest in the curfew to fight gang activity. The discussion is a reminder "that this is a tool that we can use and that we have not been focusing on in the past," public information officer Sgt. Alex Perez said Friday.

He said police officials will study the issue to see if the department can step up enforcement of the existing ordinance and still meet the demand for other services.

Fernandez could not be reached for comment, but Chief Assistant City Atty. Jack Ballas said the city attorney had advised the councilman that the existing curfew works well if judges who hear the cases understand the link between curfew violations and potential gang activity.

Two councilmen, Daniel Tabor and Garland Hardeman, a Los Angeles Police Department officer, were less enthusiastic about the ability of curfews to stem gang activity and rising crime rates. They said curfews are difficult to enforce because there are so many exceptions to the rule.

If juveniles can show that they are on the way to or from work or an entertainment event, for instance, they cannot be prosecuted.

Tabor said the city would be better off spending resources on job or recreation programs that keep young people away from gangs. Hardeman said tougher gun control laws are the answer.

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