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Lubbock’s juvenile curfew ordinance will continue

Citizens Tower - Lubbock
Weston Davis
Texas Tech Public Media
Citizens Tower

Lubbock’s juvenile curfew ordinance will continue, following a unanimous vote in Tuesday’s city council meeting.

In the last meeting, Lubbock’s police chief told city council members about a plan to implement a local curfew center, with stricter enforcement of the city’s curfew.

According to Police Chief Floyd Mitchell, a 90-day test run of this plan will include six assigned officers and a dedicated curfew center in the East Lubbock Division Station where parents can pick up their kids after officers find them – along with a $147 ticket.

If a parent or guardian refuses to pick up their child from the station, Child Protective Services will be called. Mitchell said his end goal is keeping Lubbock kids safe.

Of around 4,700 total juveniles arrested at all hours between Jan. 1, 2019, and June 30 of this year, 241, or 5%, were during nighttime weekend curfew hours, according to data presented by the Lubbock Police Department.

In Tuesday’s public hearing before the vote, former city councilman Floyd Price gave his opinion and experience working as an LPD officer in a curfew center.

“And the thing that we did, we educated the parents as they picked up the children, it was more than just getting the children off the street,” Price said. “It was getting the parents involved in crime prevention.”

Price told the council about methods police would use at their curfew center, including volunteer counselors for the kids and parents, and programs involving local businesses, all with the goal of making Lubbock what he called “a crime prevention city.”

Not everyone who spoke to the council was in favor of continuing the curfew. One citizen described the curfew as punitive, and unhelpful for the underlying conditions for the kids. They added it also might place financial burdens on families who may already struggle.

But the citizen who followed, Eric Lambert, said he was affected by Price’s comments, because of his own childhood experience:

“I just wanted to point out the importance of mentors, of police officers, of city officials,” Lambert said. “And just point out that from somebody who grew up without a dad, just my mom in a small neighborhood, I'm not saying this is the answer. But it is important that these people are around these kids.”

Lambert said the officers engaging with kids have a chance to start mentoring them, something Floyd Price said he still sees the effects of to this day.

“I've got some kids that are attorneys now. And I got some that are doctors now,” Price said. “And so I'll tell you it worked. Kids will actually– they will be your best friend if they think that you care about them.”

Members of the city council voted 7-0 to continue the curfew, which runs from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays and from midnight to 6 a.m. on weekends, for those 16 and younger.