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St. Petersburg rejects curfew for kids 16 and younger

ST. PETERSBURG — Teens who like to linger in public late at night can relax.

The City Council won't consider imposing an 11 p.m. curfew on school nights for those 16 and younger.

By a 7-1 vote, the council Thursday rejected Karl Nurse's proposal, with most saying it would be too impractical and costly for police to round up teens at night.

"We have the police stretched to the max now," said council member Bill Dudley. "Where are the parents? If they just did their job, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Even Nurse was convinced. He ended up voting against his own proposal. Steve Kornell cast the lone vote in favor of a curfew. He did it because even though he opposed the curfew, he wanted to refer it to a committee so that the broader issue of city youth could be discussed.

"It seemed pointless," Nurse said, explaining why he voted against his idea. "With a majority of council members saying they opposed it, it wasn't worth the symbolic value to do that."

Nurse said he proposed the curfew to bring attention to issues related to teen truancy, especially in the wake of the Feb. 21 slaying of St. Petersburg police Officer David S. Crawford. Nurse spent three weeks promoting his idea, appearing on TV and radio explaining his rationale. Afterward, he said he was disappointed that his colleagues didn't want to address the problem.

"It stunned me," Nurse said. "It's obvious to everyone that we have a serious problem."

Yet almost everyone, including Nurse, conceded that a curfew wasn't the best solution. Police Chief Chuck Harmon said it would be hard for the city to prove it was constitutional. The state Supreme Court found curfews in Tampa and Pinellas Park to be unconstitutional in 2005.

But even referring the curfew to a committee so that teen issues could be discussed was a waste of time, said Jeff Danner.

"Some of what can be done is up to the community, in how it can help in filling in for parents who can't be there," Danner said. "Those are solutions that can't be solved by government."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at mvansickler@sptimes.com.

St. Petersburg rejects curfew for kids 16 and younger 04/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2011 11:56pm]
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