Columbia city officials disagree on proposed city curfew

COLUMBIA, Mo. - As ABC 17 News reported Wednesday, Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton pitched a new city curfew as an answer to reduce crime.

Now, we're looking at how curfews affect crime in other cities.

Wednesday, city officials held a press conference at City Hall to talk proposals to help solve crime. One of those ideas has city leaders disagreeing on imposing a city curfew for youth 17 years of age and younger.

Research shows curfews won't always have an impact.

Columbia as a city is now divided.

"There is absolutely no reason any children under 17 should be downtown at 1 o'clock in the morning," said Burton.

"What I don't think we need is a curfew," said Councilman Michael Trapp.

A study from the University of Central Florida shows "curfew ordinances fail." The study further stated the general conclusion of dozens of similar studies is mixed.

But, a handful of other studies state curfews do result in a reduction in crime.

"What we are doing is putting our children in harms way by not recognizing that there are dangers out there and there are multiple dangers out there late at night," said Burton.

Burton went on to state there is nothing open and nothing for them to do.

The American Law and Economic Review conducted research showing youth arrests were directly impacted by curfews, with crime dropping nearly 15 percent in the first year.

The same study also shows arrests of young adults in their late teens and early 20s were not directly impacted by a curfew.

"A curfew violation is what we call a 'status crime' -- you're not guilty of what your doing but who you are," City Councilman Michael Trapp said.

Trapp is against a curfew.

"I did watch the video, the people involved were older than 17," Trapp said.

"The three victims injured were 20 and 19 years old and the shooter is 20," Burton said.

In today's news conference, Trapp told the audience curfews will only increase the number of people in the justice system -- not change people's behavior.

The American Law and Economic Review study also showed no correlation between an imposed curfew and decreasing crime rates with the number of police officers enforcing the curfew.

Trapp did note more police need to be on the streets. He's hoping next year's budget will allow that to happen.

Officials told ABC 17 News that Burton sent surveys to nearly 30 other cities asking about their current curfews.

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