Mayor Nutter Releases Flash-Mob Enforcement Tactics

Mayor Nutter meant business this afternoon as he approached the podium in Dilworth Plaza, where a crowd was awaiting word on new measurements by the city to prevent any further violence from a sect of the city’s youth.

Basically, Nutter’s had it up to here. He’s through with the excuses of the parents who’ve failed to take responsibility for the actions of their kids. Which is why the city’s crackdown is targeting misbehaving children and neglectful parents.

“The overwhelming majority of young Philadelphians are good people,” Nutter says. “Unfortunately, there’s a tiny minority of ignorant, reckless fools who are engaged in violent acts across the city.”

To deal with the misbehaving youth, Nutter has laid out some enforcement tactics. Here are the nuts and bolts:

  • 20 of the city’s largest recreational facilities across the center will soon be open until 10 p.m., offering a “safe space” for minors to convene with friends.
  • A temporary change in “targeted enforcement zones” (Center City and University City) will knock an hour off of the current curfew of 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays —making it a violation for those under 18 to be out past 9 p.m. in those areas. Curfew will remain the same in all other areas of the city.
  • Curfew violators will receive a fine of anywhere from $100 to $300 for a first violation and potentially face time in custody.
  • Parents who have to pick up their child for being out past curfew will first be issued a warning, while succeeding violations will be accompanied by fines up to $500. The city will immediately contact the Department of Human Services if a parent fails to pick up his or her child.

What are the targeted areas, you ask? According to Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey: “Center City, the targeted zone, will be Vine Street on the north down to Bainbridge on the douth, river to river. As far as University City goes, it starts at Market Street…and it will go south to Baltimore, from 38th Street on the east, to 43rd Street on the west.”

But the lifespan of the curfew change is unclear. Nutter says the city will revisit the issue as time goes on and, more importantly, when school starts.

“This does not mean that every young person who is out after curfew will be arrested. If you’re coming home from the movies, minding your own business, at 9:15 p.m., the police officer will more than likely just tell you to go home,” Nutter says.

For those minors committing acts of violence, the consequences are even more serious—both for child and parent.

“If you assault a fellow Philadelphian, a visitor or anyone else in this city, you are going to jail,” Nutter says. “The full force of the Philadelphia justice system will come down on your shoulders.”

District Attorney Seth Williams added to this later by saying there will be no diversionary programs or community service for people who randomly commit acts of violence. But he is calling for steeper punishments for negligent parents, and says he’s asked his Legislation and Policy Unit to work the state and the city to begin to hold more parents “civically and possibly criminally responsible” for the criminal and violent acts of their children. One idea Williams proposes is to create a third-degree misdemeanor offense for parents “who don’t do enough” to keep tabs on their child’s whereabouts and actions.

“Parents: It is your responsibility to know where your kids are, what they are doing and who they are with. They are your children. You need to raise them,” Nutter says.

Although he targets the menacing youth and their parents, Nutter makes one thing crystal clear: It’s up to the entire community to fix this. “While we certainly have to have a law-enforcement component, that is not the driving force. This has to be a holistic community response,” Nutter says, calling on parents, clergymen, business owners and anyone of the like to volunteer time to patrolling the city.

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