BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo lawmakers are moving ahead on a proposal to create a daytime curfew for teens 17-years-old and under.
The resolution by University District Council Member Rasheed Wyatt comes after a wave of burglaries and violent crimes committed by teenagers who should be in school.
The high school absentee rate is about 20 percent. Some kids on the street tend to get into trouble when they have time on their hands.
“Putting this daytime curfew in place is something to help them,” said Wyatt during a public hearing conducted by the Council’s education committee. He said getting them off the street and back into school would “prevent them from making those bad decision.”
The goal would be to address students individual needs, once police brought them to a placement and counseling center. Intervening organizations would potentially even address problems that their families might be encountering.
Last year about 11,000 Buffalo students were suspended. Police now have no power to determine who on the street should or should not be in school.
At Monday’s hearing, Chief Carmen Menza of the Buffalo Police Department said “what we’re finding time and time again is that the kids that are not actually suspended from school are saying that they are, because they know that is the easy out.”
But even Buffalo School District officials are concerned that an overall curfew might be too sweeping a move.
“I would caution the public in thinking that just because a child is not in school, that they’re up to something that is either criminal, or up to something no good,” said Dr. Will Keresztes an Associate School Superintendent.
Incidents of what some believe to be excessive use of force by police in Buffalo’s inner city and other inner cities are leading others to question whether police should be acting as truant officers. There is a concern that confrontations might erupt.
Sam Radford, president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, one of the official stakeholders in the Buffalo School District, said “Sometimes, you know, you stop, you ask, and they didn’t do anything and they know they didn’t do anything. They don’t want to say to you here’s my I.D.”
Two hours before the public hearing, agencies that provide after-school programs in Buffalo said resources might better be spent on their programs.
At least 80 percent of Buffalo public school students are not enrolled in these programs geared to keep them in school. Nora Niedzielski-Eichner is the executive director of the New York State After School Network. She addressed many Western New York after school agencies.
“You get them hooked on something interesting like dance, or sports, and then you provide them with homework assistance, tutoring, in-depth hands on learning experiencing that really help them build their academic strengths,” she said.
But Council Member Wyatt commented at the end of the City Hall hearing that residents want him to push hard for the curfew.
“Young people are breaking into their homes,” he said “They’re at work, and what’s their recourse?”