Austin’s juvenile curfew continues through summer in compromise


The Austin City Council voted Thursday night after a two-hour debate to temporarily extend the juvenile curfew through Oct. 1 in a compromise.

Many had been in favor of eliminating the curfew outright. However, as the debate went on, questions grew about how police would interact with children seen out late at night.

In the end, the the council voted 7-4 to extend the night-time curfew for people under the age of 17 to Oct. 1. The ordinance was also changed to mandate that police only give warnings on the first two violations. A third could result in a $500 fine and a conviction of a class C misdemeanor, though curfew violations usually do not result in a conviction, according to court staff.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Austin City Council to weigh fate of juvenile curfew

The extension was put in place after about 30 people spoke against the curfew and a two-hour debate that got somewhat tangled in amendments. Council members Greg Casar, Kathie Tovo, Delia Garza and Mayor Steve Adler voted against extending the curfew.

“I am against because it can affect a lot of teenagers, especially ones like me,” said Kevin Alvarez, one of several teenagers to speak out against the curfew. “We know we are being targeted because we look different, and we are also scared because it could stain our record.”

The night-time curfew makes it illegal for anyone under 17 to be out in public or in a business between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The day-time curfew, which does essentially the same thing between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on school days, was not extended.

The possibility of the council killing the curfew on Thursday suffered a major setback when Council Member Ellen Troxclair switched sides. Troxclair said she remained against the curfew, but thought it was a reasonable compromise to offer a temporary extension while a panel of stakeholders looks at alternatives.

OPINION: Casar says curfew ordinance leans harder on black, Latino youth

Austin police interim Chief Brian Manley said that police are relied upon to ensure the safety of juveniles. Manley said that without a curfew, his officers would not be able to detain juveniles found in crime-ridden neighborhoods late at night.

Manley said officers would still be able to approach youths and inquire about their safety, but nothing would prevent the child from walking away or refusing to answer questions. And if that situation suddenly escalated into a use-of-force scenario, it could expose police officers and the police department to litigation.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Trump cracks down on crime, but not on the police who fight it
Trump cracks down on crime, but not on the police who fight it

Six years ago, a police officer in this city in eastern Washington was convicted of beating a disabled man to death and trying to cover it up. After other alarming episodes involving Spokane officers came to light, the city asked federal officials to suggest changes to the Police Department as part of an Obama-era policing program.  Ever since...
As her last day with the Fed nears, Janet Yellen looks back on her first
As her last day with the Fed nears, Janet Yellen looks back on her first

Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chairwoman, made a relaxed appearance at New York University on Tuesday night, answering questions about her life in economics and her time at the Fed one day after she announced plans to leave the central bank next year.  Yellen said nothing new about the Fed’s policy plans for the coming months, leaving...
Second judge blocks Trump’s transgender ban in the military
Second judge blocks Trump’s transgender ban in the military

A second federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s proposed ban on transgender troops Tuesday, saying President Donald Trump’s announcement of the ban in a series of tweets this summer was “capricious, arbitrary, and unqualified.”  In a preliminary injunction, Judge Marvin J. Garbis of the U.S. District Court for...
What you need to know about a repeal of net neutrality
What you need to know about a repeal of net neutrality

For you and me, the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules can be boiled down to two questions: What might happen? And whom do you trust?  Here’s our guide for internet users looking for answers.    The net neutrality rules were passed in 2015 during the Obama administration when Democrats...
“Hi Drumstick.” Trump pardons a turkey, and likes it.
“Hi Drumstick.” Trump pardons a turkey, and likes it.

It began with a familiar pledge: President Donald Trump’s audience, he promised, was going to be very proud of him.  “Hi, Drumstick,” Trump called out Tuesday, preparing to exercise his least controversial executive authority. “Oh, Drumstick, I think, is going to be very happy.”  It ended with characteristic...
More Stories