In Philadelphia and nationwide, police departments are considering stricter curfew laws and curfew enforcement to curb after-hours crimes committed by young people. The City of Philadelphia recently reformed its curfew law and created new community centers to limit the number of young people remaining in public places or businesses during evening hours. Under Philadelphia’s updated curfew law, young people 14 to 18 may be stopped for curfew violation at 10PM, while those 13 and under may be stopped beginning at 9:30PM. Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Chicago have all recently considered reforming their curfew policies to address a nationwide uptick of crimes committed by unsupervised young people. Lawmakers in each city must consider balancing public safety with available resources. when making changes to curfew policy. For example, lawmakers around the country have discussed committing Police Department and City resources to create safe spaces for young people after curfew hours, holding families accountable for their children’s actions as a means to curb violence, and have considered the impact harsher stricter curfew enforcement may have on maintaining and rebuilding positive relationships between young people and police officers. As the summer begins, cities nationwide are considering how to handle curfews. Some of the discussions are highlighted below.
In Pittsburgh, legislators recently revived discussions to increase curfew enforcement to lessen crime and violence amongst young people. City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith introduced an ordinance on January 13, 2023 to allow the Council President to establish a committee to review the implementation and enforcement of the City’s curfew and restore curfew centers. The measure to establish a Council committee on enforcement was ultimately defeated by unanimous vote amongst Councilmembers.
When asked why she wouldn’t support the measure, Councilmember Barb Warwick said that curfew are “incredibly punitive to families and to kids. So certainly in its current form and in general, I think the data shows that curfews are not particularly effective.” Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey also didn’t support the measure, indicating enforcement would likely thwart his administration’s priority “to build strong relationships with trust between the community and our officers” and didn’t “feel something like the curfew that’s more on the punitive side of things would be the way to build those trusting in those relationships.” The City did make strides to establish a Youth/Family Resource Center Advisory Committee that will study approaches for providing youth curfew centers and family resource centers throughout Pittsburgh. 
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is planning to re-establish a curfew for young people following violence amongst teens in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor neighborhood. While in his former role as Baltimore City Councilmember, Scott passed legislation to create a temporary summer curfew. Young people under the age of 14 would be stopped for curfew violation by 9 p.m., while teens aged 14 to 16 would be stopped for curfew violation by 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekend nights. In response to the curfew policy, the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 released a statement, saying, in part, the police department’s manpower is so significantly deflated that it is barely able to respond to regular calls for service in a timely manner.
On May 26, 2023, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott released the Baltimore Police Commissioner’s Memorandum: “Implementing Nighttime Curfew for Youth Crowds” which encourages officers to warn young people found violating the curfew three times, in two languages if possible, to leave the area. Young people violating curfew will be taken to Youth Connection Centers, but only if they consent to it, according to the policy. Youth Connection Centers offer wrap-around services to Baltimore’s young people and their families, which Mayor Scott sees as “another tool in keeping our young people safe and finding out what we need to do to help those young people who are just clearly unsupervised, and in many cases, unsupported.” However, some law enforcement officials continue to raise concerns that the curfew might require more time to enforce in a police department that is short staffed.
In May 2022, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued an executive order to extend and expand curfew enforcement amongst young people after a 16-year-old was murdered in Millennium Park, a large public park in the heart of the City. Mayor Lightfoot’s proposal expanded the citywide curfew all young people 17 and under, despite previously only including young people up to 16. The proposal also extended enforcement to seven days a week. Chicago City Council adopted Mayor Lightfoot’s executive order soon thereafter, making the changes permanent. Lightfoot and her allies said police officers need the curfew as a tool as Chicago continues to struggle with shootings. One Councilmember stated that Chicago Police Officers were excited to use curfew stops to frisk young people in public spaces. “Police no longer can do investigative stops. However, if they see a group of young people who are obviously underage congregating Downtown after hours, the curfew law gives the police authority to approach them and conduct an investigatory stop.”
The City of Chicago elected a new Mayor in April 2023, former County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Johnson’s campaign plan on public safety based in equity by restoring investment in public goods and services like housing, education and jobs programs. His campaign differed from his opponent, Paul Vallas, whose plan was to hire hundreds more police officers to combat the city’s “teen take overs and an overall 45% increase in crime.” Business advocates from local Chamber of Commerce groups have called for a return to heightened enforcement of the 2022 Millenium Park curfew. Both outgoing Mayor Lightfoot and incoming Mayor Johnson, neither have mentioned renewed enforcement of the curfew as a policy priority. However, one of Mayor Johnson’s first safety plans since taking office May 15, 2023 did not include a call for heightened curfew enforcement over what is historically a high crime Memorial Day weekend.
In Philadelphia, changes to the curfew laws are already in place. You can read more on Philadelphia’s recent curfew reform through CPOC’s Curfew Explainer HERE
Information regarding the Philadelphia Police Department’s Directive 3.8, Enforcement of Curfew Ordinance, is available HERE