NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - “We’re doing everything that we should be doing and committing ourselves to doing even more,” Mayor Latoya Cantrell said.
With a juvenile crime problem across New Orleans, Mayor Cantrell said her administration is taking proactive steps to curb that crime, includes working with the Covenant House when it comes to curfew violations.
Jim Kelly is the Executive Director of the Covenant House and said the city will soon begin aggressively enforcing curfew for anyone 16 years old or younger.
“So, they came to us and said to us, we really want to enforce curfew. Can you guys help us? Well, that’s why we exist,” Kelly said.
Curfew starts at 9 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. through 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“When they come across young people who aren’t going around, aren’t in their neighborhood, and might have that look - like if you leave them out they might get into trouble, those are the young people that they will bring to Covenant House,” Kelly said.
However, Kelly said he wants to stress if a juvenile commits a crime, they’ll still be brought to the Youth Study Center, not Covenant House. He said juveniles who are simply out after curfew and have not done anything criminal will instead be brought to the Covenant House and spend time there until a parent or guardian picks them up.
“We’ll give them a sandwich, we’ll give them a snack. They can climb on the computer. They can watch T.V. and at 11 o’clock at night they can go to sleep,” Kelly said.
He said Covenant House will take care of the at-risk youth in an effort to prevent them from getting into trouble.
Curfew arrests, though, haven’t been a priority for years. NOPD data shows in 2011, police arrested more than 2,500 juveniles for curfew violations, compared to just 230 curfew arrests last year.
However, Cantrell said her administration is focused now on curfew enforcement as a tool to prevent juvenile crime, especially during the summer months.