Op-ed: We don't need a new curfew

Dear May­or Nut­ter and City Coun­cil,

  We DO NOT need a “new” layered curfew to stop wan­der­ing groups of miscre­ants from roam­ing our streets wreak­ing hav­oc on un­sus­pect­ing cit­izens!

What we need is a clear con­sist­ent plan to en­force already ex­ist­ing curfew and loiter­ing laws and or­din­ances. City Or­din­ances 10-300, 303 and those re­lat­ing to ‘side­walk be­ha­vi­or’ (10-600, and oth­ers) already ad­dress the is­sues with which we are con­cerned. I agree that stronger fines and pen­al­ties should be im­posed, and youth need to be held ac­count­able for their ac­tions as well as mind­less par­ents who al­low their chil­dren to em­bar­rass them pub­licly.

What I strongly dis­agree with is se­lect en­force­ment in se­lect, ran­dom neigh­bor­hoods. What we need is for ALL the laws to ap­ply to ALL the cit­izens in ALL neigh­bor­hoods at ALL times! Peri­od!

No spe­cial curfews, no spe­cial en­force­ment areas, no spe­cial treat­ment — for any­one. The same 16 bike of­ficers de­tailed to Cen­ter City and Uni­versity City this past spring to en­force curfew and all the ad­ded patrols could have had a huge ef­fect on crime and neigh­bor­hood is­sues were those same of­ficers de­ployed to high crime areas — rather than made polit­ic­al pawns in a re-elec­tion game to show force, and garner votes from high tax pay­ing cit­izens and pro­tect­ing almighty tour­ism dol­lars. Sev­er­al po­lice of­ficers that I’ve spoken to re­cently are already con­fused and told me that ‘there’s a new curfew’ and that they haven’t been told what to do yet.

A new, more con­fus­ing curfew and lay­ers to the law will only con­found these fine of­ficers even more.

If the same mind­set em­ployed in the flash-mob in­cid­ents was em­ployed daily we’d have en­force­ment in ALL areas of the city at ALL times — tour­ism, and the tax base here wouldn’t be a prob­lem. If the same tac­tics (minus the name call­ing and tough-talk­ing pos­tur­ing, of course) were al­ways em­ployed we’d have safer streets and more liv­able com­munit­ies — and per­haps rather than leav­ing, we’d want to stay here. Maybe tour­ists would want to wander out­side of the “pro­tec­tion zone.”

So, I im­plore you to stretch and come out of your own com­fort zone and do something truly al­tru­ist­ic and not polit­ic­ally mo­tiv­ated and en­act only the le­gis­la­tion that we need that will en­force ALL the laws in ALL Phil­adelphia neigh­bor­hoods and will treat every­one the same, equally, without dis­tinc­tion or dis­trac­tion based on race or eco­nom­ics, or class, or party of voter re­gis­tra­tion.

  And, while you’re at it, please have Com­mis­sion­er Ram­sey and his depu­ties look at de­ploy­ment in Port Rich­mond, spe­cific­ally the 24th Dis­trict, where it has be­come com­mon­place for po­lice lead­er­ship to claim “lack of man­power” for not re­spond­ing to ra­dio calls. Per­haps, one day, we’ll call the po­lice, and they won’t come. And, someone will die; and the de­part­ment will then de­tail many more patrols and bikes and the mo­bile mini sta­tion here … Oh wait, that already happened. At least twice! I keep get­ting told “You don’t un­der­stand” and “You’re not a cop.” So, maybe that’s a strategy in and of it­self, but I can’t help but not feel safe. If I know the cops won’t come, don’t you think the crim­in­al ele­ment will know that too?

  ALL we really need, is for ALL the laws to ap­ply to ALL the people ALL the time ALL over the city and we may ALL some day feel safe in our own homes again; and the need for se­lect curfew en­force­ment will not be ne­ces­sary.

Some day…

D. Mi­chael Black­ie

Port Rich­mond res­id­ent

You can reach at star@bsmphilly.com.

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