EAST PALO ALTO (KCBS) – The streets of East Palo Alto were a little quieter Thursday night; police officers were enforcing a long-standing curfew that prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from being in a public space between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. It’s been on the books since 1995, but hasn’t been strictly enforced because of limited police resources.

Thursday night’s curfew enforcement comes on the heels of an emergency crime declaration by Police Chief Ron Davis earlier this month, in response to a surge in gang violence.

“It’s a shame that we have to go to this extent to address it. There’s a lot of good people here who shouldn’t have to live in fear,” said East Palo Alto Police Department Sgt. David Carson.

The declaration allows Davis to cancel off-days for his offices, thereby boosting patrols on the streets.

“Essentially we’re taking two teams and combining them, essentially doubling the amount of officers out there,” Carson explained. “Plus, we have the gang task force out here and that just adds to our numbers.”

Any youngster caught on the streets of East Palo Alto late Thursday night or early Friday morning was expected to be referred immediately to the city’s Youth Court program, which is less punitive – and more about turning a troubled youth’s life around.

“The services are right there on scene. Right on site, so whatever it is that the family may need or the juvenile offender may need, it’s right there. Within arm’s reach,” said Carson.

Punishments were also possible.

“It could be anything from community service to picking up garbage, graffiti removal, but it’s something. It’s something punitive to say, hey, you know that the behavior’s not appreciated. You can’t do that.”

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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