A curfew in Dallas that is more than two decades old could be on its way out after complaints from civil rights groups that it unfairly targets minority youths.
On Monday, Dallas officials vowed to ask City Council members to strike down the juvenile curfew by not renewing it when it runs out next month, the Dallas Morning News reports.
City Manager T.C. Broadnax wrote in an email to council member Philip Kingston, asking to seek alternatives that would keep the ordinance alive in some way.
“If it had some sort of public safety benefit, I may be willing to be more open-minded, but it just doesn’t,” Kingston said. The council member has been working to get the ordinance killed since 2015. He is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project.
“There’s not a compromise that makes this distasteful ordinance suddenly OK,” he said.
He is hoping that the Police Chief U. Renee Hall doesn’t try to revise it and keep it alive. The Assistant City Manager Jon Fortune said the Police Department is looking into “community-based alternatives” to issuing citations.
The Dallas Police Association supports the curfew saying it “is about keeping communities safe. It’s not about taking personal freedoms away,” said its president Mike Mata.
At issue, the ordinance prohibits youths 17 and under from being outside between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. without an accompanying adult, Sunday to Thursday and between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays.
The youths also can’t be outside without an adult between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. weekdays or risk racking up a class C misdemeanor fine of up to $500.
The ordinance which was enacted in 1991 and expired Jan. 18, was reportedly made into law to prevent kids from loitering and to curb criminal activity.
On Monday, however, the Police Department said in a statement that officials are “concerned with the disproportionate minority contact that occurs through enforcement of the curfew.”
“We don’t want to funnel youth into the criminal justice system because every interaction they have with the system increases their chances for having a difficult time later in in life,” said Meagan Harding, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas Harding in a statement to the outlet. “Police officers can still use their community caretaking function to check in with youth that they believe are in trouble or that they have concerns about.”