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Curfew to drop crime at Baylor, DPS says

March 6, 1997

By Martha Roberts

Lariat Reporter

A proposed Waco nighttime curfew on juveniles may reduce crime at the University, according to officers with the Baylor Department of Public Safety.

The proposed curfew, which would keep children ages 15 and under off the streets from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, was approved 4-2 by the Waco City Council Tuesday night.

Chief Jim Doak director of the Baylor Police said at least 30 percent of crimes on the University campus are committed by 12 to 13-year-olds.

'It's one of the most disturbing trends we have seen here,' Doak said. '[Age] is the single greatest contributing factor to crime by far. These youngsters are really causing problems.'

Sgt. Paul Kreel of the Baylor Police said mostly juveniles are responsible for many bike and auto thefts around campus.

'We're all for [the curfew]; it would really help us,' Kreel said. 'The majority of bike thefts and auto burglaries [at Baylor] are usually juveniles ... they have no fear of punishment even if they are caught.'

Baylor Police Cpl. Marla Citrano also favors a curfew saying she felt that the juveniles' safety is an issue.

'There's not enough parental guidance,' Citrano said. 'These kids have no business wandering around at two in the morning, and parents have no business not knowing where their kids are. They could get into situations that are really dangerous.'

Council member Jeff Latimer, who voted for the proposal, told the Waco Tribune-Herald that he believes the curfew will be a vital tool in law enforcement.

'We have watched the juvenile crime rate rise,' Latimer said. 'In meeting with city council members from cities across the United States, I've been told that this is effective.'

However, those who were opposed to the ordinance cited the importance of preserving the civil rights of both juveniles and their parents and the lack of hard evidence that a curfew would be effective.

The Tribune-Herald quoted police statistics that indicate 59 percent of juvenile crime occurs in hours not covered in the proposed curfew.

The council did not consider a daytime curfew.

Kreel said that most of the time, the only reason a juvenile has to be on campus late at night is to commit some kind of property theft. Campus police cannot legally approach youths who are merely 'acting suspicious' unless they actually commit an offense. A curfew would give officers an opportunity to legally escort youths off campus before a crime is committed.

'A curfew would give us a reason to approach people and deal with them,' Kreel said.

The council will take another vote March 18; if approved, police will begin enforcing the curfew June 1, with a one-year review in 1998.

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