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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Albuquerque Nears Curfew for Teens

By Kate Nash
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE Albuquerque might be a step closer to a teen curfew after members of the House Government and Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday approved a bill allowing cities to impose nighttime rules.
    The measure (HB 568 committee substitute) amends the state Children's Code to allow cities the ability to detain teens who break the ordinance. A similar bill is tracking in the Senate (SB 179).
    Debate at recent hearings has centered on whether the measure would punish law-abiding teens who like to stay out late.
    Curfews would "stop kids at night who are not committing crimes but may be out" past a certain time, said David Schmidt, head of the New Mexico Council on Crime and Delinquency.
    But City of Albuquerque lobbyist Scott Scanland told the committee the bill would "protect good kids who may have stayed out late from bad elements out there."
    Schmidt also expressed concern that the curfews would allow police to detain teens at community centers and other facilities.
    The bill would allow teens to be placed in protective custody at centers until a parent or guardian can be reached to take him or her home. It also would allow a teen or his or her parents to be fined for a curfew violation.
    Only Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, voted against the bill during the hearing, saying she agrees with some of Schmidt's concerns.
    Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez is pushing for the measure and members of the Albuquerque City Council earlier this year unanimously approved a memorial supporting a curfew.