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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Full Disclosure

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

Eric,

I'm baffled at how you perceive the tone of my last statement as "chest puffing". As for stats, you and I have discussed precisely one stat: drop out rate.

You haven't provided stats to back your claim that "punitive measures" never work. "Punitive measures simply don't work" would require a pretty high standard of stat, because it's an absolute statement.

On another note: Batts is right, OPD is part of the problem. But it's ridiculous to suggest that because they're part of the problem they can't be part of the solution.

Posted by Max Allstadt on 09/29/2011 at 11:27 PM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

"an altruistic belief that imposing a teen curfew wont amount to racial profiling"

huh? "altruistic"?

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/29/2011 at 10:54 PM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

"Teachers use sanctions to control classrooms all the time: don't do your work in class? Lose your recess and do it then. There's no difference between that and what you are incorrectly labeling "punitive measures"."

exactly. except for the part about my label being incorrect. you need to come with some research or relevant data to make that case. these are facts you dont have, apparently.

what you fail to see is the correlation between punitive measures and failed policies. adding more flawed policies based on an altruistic belief that imposing a teen curfew wont amount to racial profiling is simply naive.

last week Batts admitted that police are part of the problem, that many people dont trust them, and that they have not done enough to earn that trust. this was BEFORE a federal judge ripped OPD a new one for failure to make any progress on the NSA. you need to add this reality to your argument before it can hold any water.

right now it kind of sounds like you're chest-puffing. basing a policy on hypotheticals without considering the research thats out there is a slippery slope, especially since enactment of that policy wont affect you.

Posted by Eric K. Arnold on 09/29/2011 at 10:19 PM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

Eric, I'm not certain, but I think the dropout rate has improved from since that 50% number made big headlines.

As for cause, I don't think that irresponsible or absent parents are the sole cause. Clearly economics, an anti-academic culture, challenges of foster care, and others are at work too.

But I still think the right youth loitering law or curfew can help. Again, it's all about implementation. I'm not calling for instant "criminalization" of youth. An interaction with a cop doesn't inherently criminalize a kid. The "criminalizing youth" talking point has become an overused hyperbole.

I proposed an escalating system in my previous. But more importantly, at the bottom of that ladder of escalation is this: giving a cop tha ability to stop a kid and potentially initiate call a parent during certain hours. It could also be possible to call a school. It might also be possible to connect the kid to appropriate services.

What I have suggested are sanctions, not punishment. There's a difference. If a kid isn't in school when he's supposed to be and a cop detains him pending a guardian picking him up, that isn't an act of retribution. It isn't a punishment either. It's a corrective sanction.

Teachers use sanctions to control classrooms all the time: don't do your work in class? Lose your recess and do it then. There's no difference between that and what you are incorrectly labeling "punitive measures".

And again, I expect that this policy should be very carefully written, and that it focus on correction and on the welfare of the kids. Part of the reason I'm willing to debate it at length is that it's complicated. I expect the council to take their time and craft this well.

One thing I bet we can all agree on is that the sudden incoherent push for public safety measures is no good. Whether it's Brooks taking over a meeting with a bunch of supporters and demanding her agenda, or it's Ignacio and Larry pushing through their agenda as fast as possible, all o the haste is problematic.

All of the politicians seem in a rush to DO SOMETHING. What they should be doing is crafting a comprehensive and integrated path to doing multiple right things. I think the right curfew can work with the right violence prevention and multiple other right things.

Posted by Max Allstadt on 09/29/2011 at 9:18 PM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

"I think that our high school drop out rate shows that irresponsible parents are a huge problem. How many kids drop out a year? How much damage does that do to our society? How much damage does it do to those kids' lives? "

interestingly enough, i'm working on an investigative piece right now on the dropout rate, so i'm extremely well versed in this topic. that rate is 50% at OUSD.

but you just don't get it if you think you can point to any one causal factor as the problem. that's called the blame game. usually made by people who dont want to address the underlying issues. you cant bully kids into staying in school, and criminalizing youth only causes further problems with recidivism and continuation of economic inequity down the line.

the larger issue here is that a curfew will not positively impact the dropout rate, because punitive measures simply dont work. you can argue all you want, but there's plenty of research, data and statistics which strongly suggest otherwise. and without your argument having the benefit of any relevant data and statistics, otherwise known as evidence, it becomes somewhat empty, IMO.

Posted by Eric K. Arnold on 09/29/2011 at 5:17 PM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

Dan,

Education and jobs matter, but to suggest that they're not the "only program" that will reduce our public safety problems.

I say "public safety" because crime and public safety are not the same thing. As I've said previously: part of the reason this proposal is worth consideration is that it could reduce the number of youth who become victims of crimes.

Also, it's really unfortunate that this article and the one before it only ponder the option of "yes curfews" and "no curfews"?

Shouldn't we also be looking at "what kind of curfew?" Or "how could we best implement a curfew"?

For instance, would an age limit of 15 be better for civil rights than an age limit of 17? It's a lot harder for police to detain a 20 year old and say "I thought he was 15" that it is for them to claim they mistook him for 17.

What about an incremental enforcement approach? Part of this proposal applies to loitering during school hours. What if the first offense was a warning, the second a letter home, and the third actually would involve detaining a teenager until their parent or guardian collected them?

For that matter, what if the police training bulletin included a long list of measures to direct kids to appropriate social services if they're repeatedly caught out late on school nights.

Lastly, should we assume that this new law would be enforced in an absolutist way, or could the proposal be modified so that cops had a lot of discretion? Could priorities for enforcement be written into the training bulletin for the law?

For instance, there could be a directive that states that the top priority for enforcement should be in cases where an officer sees a young person out late and engaging in what appears to be soliciting.

Consider an officer who sees a young looking girl in a mini dress, out late loitering on International. With a properly written law, the officer could stop her, make sure she isn't under 18, and if she is, he could immediately intervene, rather than having to wait until she got in a car with a John. Seems like a pretty sane application of this law to me.

There is going to be a debate about this next Tuesday. The smart way to discuss it goes beyond "yes" or "no" and extends far into considering "if yes, how?"

Eric,

As far as parental discretion vs. police discretion goes:

1. If we're going to do this, the council needs to produce a very clear training bulletin that sets priorities, and they need to get the Chief to put his name on the line upholding appropriate priorities.

2. I think that our high school drop out rate shows that irresponsible parents are a huge problem. How many kids drop out a year? How much damage does that do to our society? How much damage does it do to those kids' lives?

And if Dan thinks Education is the only way, isn't it reasonable to at least consider using policing as a means of creating an environment where kids have a harder time getting away with skipping school, and where they have a harder time staying up and out so late that they're not prepared for school?

Posted by Max A on 09/29/2011 at 2:15 PM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

really like Bob's lead here. it states the obvious.

its worth noting that according to OUSD's study on youth homicides, the highest percentage of murders happened at 8pm. a teen curfew, obviously, would not remedy this.

@Max: dont you think 'sane parents' should exercise their own discretion? nothing's stopping them from putting their own kids under curfew without making it a function of a police state.

ask yourself: do we really want to take parental authority away from parents and give it to the police, who just a few days ago, killed a guy who may have been unarmed and attempting to surrender, reportedly by shooting him in the back, and then confiscated and destroyed video evidence of the incident?

Posted by Eric K. Arnold on 09/29/2011 at 1:48 PM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

Gammon is right on this issue. A youth curfew is unnecessary and counter-productive. The police have more than enough "tools" to manage people actually involved in committing crimes. A curfew law, just like a gang injunction, provides a justification for making contact with people who have not committed crimes. In the real world, it is an opportunity for abuse, harassment, and discrimination against young people who live in poor and nonwhite communities. We need to stop fooling ourselves. The only program to reduce is JOBS and EDUCATION!

Posted by Dan Siegel on 09/29/2011 at 11:56 AM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

Thanks for another excellent article, Mr. Gammon. And to Libby Schaaf, who proposes a daytime youth curfew for our city, why stop at half measures? Let's put the kids on 24-hour lockdown, and while we're at it let's ankle-brace the lot of 'em with GPS devices.

Posted by John Seal on 09/29/2011 at 8:54 AM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

"Long Beach, a similarly sized city that has a curfew, experienced a 12.8 percent increase in youth crime....

"Long Beach, which strictly enforces its curfew, tallied 538 [curfew/city ordinance violation] arrests a year over the same time.

"Youth crime is measured by the number of youths that are arrested each year."

i hope long beach's youth crime tally doesn't include curfew arrests. otherwise it's a pretty meaningless statistic when evaluating the crime-reducing efficacy of a curfew law. and i'm adamantly opposed to such a law.

Posted by carl on 09/29/2011 at 1:20 AM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

So, no response what so ever to the fact that you didn't pay any attention at all to how curfews might prevent youth from becoming victims, rather than becoming offenders?

Can any sane parent really say that it's a good idea to let their kids hang out in the flatlands unsupervised late at night on a school night? I bet if you ask 10 parents "what might happen", 10 out of 10 would be more worried about their kid getting killed, beaten or robbed than they would be about their kid committing a crime.

Posted by Max A on 09/28/2011 at 10:57 AM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

Or is it just to give more power to government? More policing, more "we will protect you from you", because "we know best."

Let people live their lives!

Posted by Terry Alexander on 09/28/2011 at 10:36 AM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

"As for Mr. Macallair's comment: "The irony here is that this is the best behaved generation on record — at least since the 1950s and '60s."

Mr. Macallair was referring to the substantial youth crime drop throughout California -- not just Oakland.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/28/2011 at 9:52 AM

Re: “Why a Curfew Is Unnecessary

This article completely misses the point that a curfew isn't only about reducing youth crime.

It's also about reducing the number of youth that are victims of crime.

No data on that? No MENTION of that factor? It's more than half the point of enacting a curfew. It's more than half the point of enforcing truancy laws. And you got nothing on it. Zero. Not a damn word.

It's hard data to come by. In order to accurately evaluate it, you can't look at the number of teen crime victims by time of day. You'd have to compare the number of teens who are out on the street after 10 with the number of teens out after 10 who became victims of crime. That data probably doesn't exist.

Imagine yourself as the parent of two teens, and try to come up with a reason to let one of your kids hang out in the flatlands of Oakland after 10pm on a school night. (Note: Cutting college tuition costs in half is not an acceptable answer.)

As for Mr. Macallair's comment: "The irony here is that this is the best behaved generation on record — at least since the 1950s and '60s." That's very easy to explain:

OUSD enrollment dropped about 8% from 1999-2008
The school age population increased by about 10% from 1999-2008
Private school enrollment in Oakland increased about 100% from 1999-2008.

What does that mean? A bigger percentage of well-to-do parents in Oakland, and therefore a bigger percentage of youth who are unlikely to get involved in street crime. It also means that the apparent progress we're seeing in this town appears to be exacerbating the class schism - a problem indeed, but a problem for another rant.

Posted by Max A on 09/27/2011 at 7:34 PM

Re: “Why Curfews Don't Work

If you really did try to find viable pro-curfew data and couldn't, I take you at your word Bob. I apologize for going over the top earlier.

I would love to see articles about how you think more investigation would drop the crime rate, and where that's worked. Or for that matter, maybe going out of town on assignment would be worth while. (Please don't take this as F-off, I don't mean it that way).

Where is there a city with income and demographics like Oakland that has managed to drop it's crime rate? How did they do it? I think Long Beach is an example, and I think that's a good reason to talk to Batts when he gets back in town. What about Newark?

There's also data that shows little or no change in violence and recidivism in response to Oakland's heavy spending on non-profit run intervention and prevention programs. Perhaps we should take some of that money and put it into investigations and more detectives?

4 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Max A on 09/09/2011 at 2:55 PM

Re: “Why Curfews Don't Work

Max,
Your baseless accusations are really tiresome:
1. "If Bob had put a little effort into contacting Chief Batts, I'm pretty sure there would have been a strong logical argument for curfews available to include in the article."

For the record, I spoke twice with OPD spokeswoman Holly Joshi and asked repeatedly to speak to Chief Batts on this issue -- but she insisted that he was unavailable until Sept. 12. I also requested more than once to speak to Asst. Chief Howard Jordan, and he also declined to be interviewed. Joshi made it clear that OPD was not ready to make its case for curfews because the department had not yet developed a concrete plan for them.

2. "Now with Gammon's two sources on curfews, one cautious (Muhammed) and one against CJCJ, I have to wonder if Bob's cherry picking too. Take two sources with political points, (IDLF and Reid) and contrast them with experts, and you can weaken the politicians stance. I don't believe for a second, however, that there isn't an expert with good standing who supports curfews and has evidence. I just think Bob didn't quote anyone like that."

For the record, I spoke to many more people than were quoted in this article, but I left out none who had any evidence of the effectiveness of curfews. I also did significant research on the topic. I didn't find any credible studies that supported the position that they're effective, nor did I find any news stories about studies that showed that curfews are effective. If I had found them, I would have included them in the above article, and the thrust of the article would have changed to: studies differ on whether curfews work.

It also should be noted that I asked Ignacio De La Fuente if he and Larry Reid had any evidence of curfew effectiveness, and the only thing he had was the 2009 OPD memo that I quoted extensively in the article.

Finally, I don't have an axe to grind about curfews. I'm not morally, politically, or ethically opposed to them. But if they don't work, then why spend the time, effort, and money to implement them, particularly when there are more effective, proven ways to combat crime?







8 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/09/2011 at 9:49 AM

Re: “Why Curfews Don't Work

Unaddressed in all this impassioned debate over curfews (about which I have no strong opinion one way or another, as quite a few egregious crimes seem to happen in broad daylight, as others have noted) is Mr. Gammon's point about how OPD should be putting resources into, like, SOLVING CRIMES AND LOCKING UP THE PERPS. The glorious incident of the iPad theft victim who took matters into his own hands and shamed OPD into delivering the level of service every citizen has the right to expect stands in spectacular contrast to what we normally get in response to unending violations of our rights; delivering that level of service would undoubtedly cut down on the city's current status as a criminal paradise where it's apparently common knowledge you can do whatever you like to the citizens and the cops won't do jack. Somehow I am not holding my breath on this parcel tax.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by marye on 09/09/2011 at 8:21 AM

Re: “Why Curfews Don't Work

If Bob had put a little effort into contacting Chief Batts, I'm pretty sure there would have been a strong logical argument for curfews available to include in the article.

Batts has been pushing for a curfew since he arrived in Oakland, and he says it's because it worked in Long Beach. The guys got a doctorate and experience. I'd expect he'd be able to defend his position.

Then again, based on past articles that Bob has written that were slanted against Batts, if I was Batts, I might not talk to Bob either.

4 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Max A on 09/08/2011 at 5:36 PM

Re: “Why Curfews Don't Work

Thanks for a fine article, Mr. Gammon. Not that we'd want logic and evidence to get in the way of a little political grandstanding, of course!

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by John Seal on 09/08/2011 at 3:55 PM

Re: “Why Curfews Don't Work

Mike,

Suppression isn't only "lockem up". It can include video cameras, it can include prioritizing arrests for petty crime like turnstile jumping in order to nab people who often have outstanding warrants, it can include injunctions, stay away orders and loitering ordinances.

All of these strategies raise hackles with civil rights advocates. But suppression does work as a broad strategy, when paired with prevention and intervention. New York is a great example of this. Bratton's tactics worked. They pissed off some civil rights advocates, and there was some of it that went a little too far. But you know what else happened? Many many fewer boys and young men of color ended up dead.

Also, as far as Mike Siegel and Bob Gammon bringing up what experts think as backing for their arguments, I think we should all be a little skeptical. When talking about injunctions, Mike, you initially stated repeatedly that no study had said they worked. Russo and Batts then showed that there were studies that said injunctions worked. I think they came up with two. As for experts, lets not forget that when Barry Krisberg showed up to testify, he said, under oath that he hadn't even read Oakland's injunction.

Now with Gammon's two sources on curfews, one cautious (Muhammed) and one against CJCJ, I have to wonder if Bob's cherry picking too. Take two sources with political points, (IDLF and Reid) and contrast them with experts, and you can weaken the politicians stance. I don't believe for a second, however, that there isn't an expert with good standing who supports curfews and has evidence. I just think Bob didn't quote anyone like that.

Look, particularly with Mike, I completely understand that there's an important role to play. We need skeptics, we need pushback. But at the same time, as much as we need to pay attention to absolutists, they don't get to write policy by themselves. It's a process.

What I am fed up with is that there is a faction in this city that seems to believe that absolutely no coercive methods are acceptable. It's ludicrous. It's true that we can't arrest our way out of our troubles. We can't kumbaya our way out of this mess either.

Suppression has to be added to the mix. Our strategy is incomplete. And the bulk of the people advocating against suppression and in favor of prevention and intervention are people who get City money to do prevention and intervention. Groupthink can't write policy either. We need a holistic approach, and we're neglecting a cog in the whole.

5 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Max A on 09/07/2011 at 8:01 PM

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