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Phil Matier: Oakland Curfew Proposed To Combat Crime, Keep Youth Safe

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Phil-Matier_BIO-HEAD Phil Matier
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OAKLAND (KCBS) – Sometimes Oakland’s youth is committing crimes, but sometimes they’re the victims. Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo is proposing a youth curfew to combat crime, but besides keeping kids off the streets, it can also keep them from situations where they could be victimized.

Gallo feels confident he can get the law, which fell flat with the city council in 2011, into the books. Seeing as how this isn’t the first time the city has had this on the table, it almost seems like Gallo is banking on the desperation of the city to try anything to reduce its rampant crime rate with an understaffed police force.

This is something that gets put before the council every few years and we usually get arguments from all sides on this. One of the more common arguments against the curfew is that it will disproportionately focus on the kids in the flatlands and not necessarily on the ones who live in the hills.

Gallo is proposing it as a safety measure. It’s being argued that it’s simply not safe for kids to be out in those flatlands after 10 p.m.

Another issue is where exactly the kids should be taken when they’re picked up for being out after curfew. Many of Oakland’s kids don’t have what you call a home. They may have a place they stay that isn’t the ideal situation where they could be getting abused. So, some are suggesting they get taken to youth centers and at least give them a safe haven.

They don’t want to take them to jail and criminalize them, but to just get them off the streets. However, that takes money and police force, which brings us back to the issue of the understaffed Oakland police. I think they’re around just over 600 cops.

The bottom line with these proposals is if you don’t really want to do it, you can come up with about 20 reasons and questions to raise about it.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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