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