There has been a dramatic rise in curfew enforcement by the San Diego Police Department. Police began conducting regular sweeps in 2008 and have since expanded their use to much of the city’s urban core, reports the Voice of San Diego. In some neighborhoods, police have more than tripled curfew arrests in the last five years, forcing hundreds of children to pay fines, participate in weeks-long diversion courses, or fight police in court. All of it is done on an unproved hunch.
When pushed to justify the arrests, police and elected leaders have claimed the sweeps are responsible for a recent drop in crime. They cite isolated crime statistics or anecdotes, but never an analysis of whether the program has actually been effective. Proponents argue that the program saves lives and prevents kids from becoming victims of violent crime. They’ve also argued it prevents kids from becoming perpetrators of crime by pulling them from a dangerous environment and educating them about the risks of staying out late. An analysis by voiceofsandiego.org challenges whether either of these claims are true. Neighborhoods without the sweeps have reported greater drops in crime in the last five years than those with them.