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Montgomery council needs to approve a curfew

Regarding the Dec. 4 Local Opinions article “Three strikes on the Montgomery curfew”:

Both the D.C. and Prince George’s County police chiefs have been crystal clear on youth curfews: They consider their own curfews to be useful tools in protecting young people.

Montgomery County police believe that the problem of a roving group of youths in Silver Spring over the July 4 weekend and a “mass theft” Aug. 13 in Germantown might have been lessened — or avoided altogether — if a youth curfew had been in effect.

The Silver Spring incident began just before a proposed curfew would have been in effect and continued for hours. Rather than having 46 officers following dozens of youth for hours, police could have pulled out underage youths and sent them home. Instead, the county was forced to take officers off patrol in Wheaton and Bethesda to respond, leaving those communities less protected.

In Germantown, the relevance of a curfew is even more direct. A police officer stopped a large group of youth, nearly all of whom were younger than 18, in the early morning. Because they had broken no law in front of him, he could neither arrest them nor send them home under a curfew law. The mass theft occurred shortly afterward. Two weeks ago, another mass theft incident in Silver Spring involved underage individuals.

There is nothing more important than protecting our kids. A curfew is an important part of a comprehensive approach that includes increased police staffing and positive youth development. Why wait for another incident involving underage youth late at night? It’s time for the County Council to approve a youth curfew.

Patrick Lacefield, Rockville

The writer is spokesman for Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett.

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