Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announces plans to impose a curfew for youth. Screenshot via Facebook Live.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott plans to put a curfew in place for the city’s youth beginning later this spring to last through the end of summer.

The announcement came after two teenagers were shot in the 400 block of East Pratt Street near the Inner Harbor on Sunday evening.

According to Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael S. Harrison, who spoke at a press conference Sunday evening, officers entered the large crowd to break up a fight. While arresting one of those engaged in the fight, officers heard gunshots that resulted in two teens being wounded, Harrison said.

“What we now know is that we have two young victims, a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old…one shot in the leg, one shot in the back. One is in critical but stable, the other is in stable condition. They both went to local hospitals, but two different hospitals.”

Harrison continued that officers had the “wherewithal” to track an individual “speeding away on a dirtbike around the corner.” They followed that individual all the way to police headquarters, where he entered the headquarters’ garage. He was apprehended and found to have a loaded handgun. He was arrested for possession of the handgun, but it’s unknown “his position or affiliation with the shooting.”

At the same time, at the scene of the fight, other officers were given a description and tracked down another individual in possession of a loaded handgun which was a “ghost gun.” This individual is believed to be a “person of interest and a suspect in this shooting.”

Harrison also pointed to what he called the “larger issue that young people would, number one, have ease of access to these firearms, and would use them indiscriminately, shooting people within 50 feet of 25 to 30 police officers who were in the block.”

Scott promised that city officials “are going to do everything in our power to protect the lives of our young people.” He announced plans to establish a curfew for teenagers in Baltimore.

“We are going back to the old days,” he said. “We will be imposing a curfew in Baltimore as we move into the latter spring and summer months. So, to parents, know the curfew law. Know that if a young person is under the age of 14 right now, they need to be off the street at 9 p.m.…for those who are up to 17 years old, that’s 10 p.m.”

Scott talked about providing programs and services and entertainment for kids when school is out, but he added, “this is Baltimore. When those street lights used to come on, that’s when you needed to get your butt home. That’s what we need to get back to. And for those young people that we see, it’s our duty to bring them in and make sure they’re safe, and to see what’s going on with them, because who knows what that young person is experiencing at home?”

The Marshall Project, a non-profit organization focusing on criminal justice, asserts that curfews are ineffective in curbing juvenile crime. They cited the 2016 Campbell Report, which examined more than 7,000 studies on juvenile curfews, and stated, “evidence suggests that juvenile curfews are ineffective at reducing crime and victimization. The average effect on juvenile crime during curfew hours was slightly positive — that is a slight increase in crime — and close to zero for crime during all hours. Similarly, juvenile victimization also appeared unaffected by the imposition of a curfew ordinance.”

The Marshall Project also cites a 2015 report that studied Washington, D.C.’s curfew law and its impact on gun violence. That report found a 150% increase in gunfire incidents during curfew hours, combined with a marked decrease in voluntary reporting rates because of fewer people on the streets.

The study did not measure more minor types of crime. The study’s authors also acknowledge, “juvenile curfews might increase domestic violence by incentivizing at-risk kids (and their caregivers) to be home at night.” This is a point Scott articulated, wanting to know what youth who were still out after curfew might be experiencing at home, and how to help them.

The news of an impending curfew met primarily negative reviews on Twitter, though for differing reasons.

Mike Mancuso, president of Baltimore City’s Fraternal Order of Police, blamed Scott and Harrison for what he called a “sense of lawlessness” that will make enforcing a curfew nearly impossible, calling it “smoke and mirrors.”

Mancuso also said the city’s police department does not have adequate staffing to enforce a curfew.

Others, however, pointed out the ineffectiveness of the policy itself and the lack of community input in the decision.

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