Teen's Slaying Sparks Talk of Curfew

By Raymond McCaffrey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Annapolis is considering a curfew for youths up to age 18 in the aftermath of this week's fatal shooting of a teen at a public housing complex.

The idea of a curfew, along with other anti-crime proposals, was discussed at an emergency meeting of the city's public safety committee on Tuesday, two days after an Annapolis High School 11th-grader became the second person to be fatally shot this year in the same block at the Robinwood public housing complex.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer (D) and Alderman David H. Cordle Sr. (R-Ward 5) each asked that the committee explore the possibility of a curfew, though the two officials offered different visions of such a plan. Moyer asked for an examination of a youth curfew specifically at the city's housing complexes; Cordle wanted the committee to explore the possibility of a curfew for all Annapolis teens from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

"It would have to be citywide," Cordle said yesterday. "We can't just target individual communities or streets."

Cordle, an investigator for the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office and one of three council members on the public safety committee, said, "We're not going to take anything off the table.

"It's not about politics," he said. "It's about people bleeding dead in the streets."

Moyer said yesterday that she questioned whether a curfew could be implemented, but that she thought the committee should examine it. "Can you do it? Can you not do it? Where would it be?" she asked.

Eric Brown, executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority, said he didn't object to "a curfew in general" but he had "deep concerns" about one directed at residents on the authority's property.

"It's singling out one group of people," Brown said. "If their idea's that we want to address crime in the entire city, the curfew needs to apply to the entire city."

Serious crime in Annapolis dropped by almost 10 percent in 2007, but the number of homicides in Annapolis rose from seven in 2006 to eight last year.

There have been four killings this year. The latest victim, 17-year-old Kwame Travon Johnson, was the first juvenile to be killed this year. Last month, a 48-year-old Severna Park man was found fatally shot in the 1300 block of Tyler Avenue, which runs through Robinwood.

The first two homicide victims of the year were killed at a complex with subsidized units, but not one of the 10 developments overseen by the city's quasi-governmental housing authority.

Tuesday's meeting came less than a month after Moyer joined Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and others in announcing a comprehensive plan to reduce crime in Annapolis, including hiring a criminal justice coordinator and a crime analyst for city police. Moyer said yesterday that she understands the public frustration stirred by the latest slaying, but cautioned against "finger pointing" that could "become a negative and discouraging factor" as the city embarks on its new crime prevention programs.

"Unfortunately, there is a very impatient public," she said. "You can kill programs before they even have a chance to get off the ground."

Moyer also asked the public safety committee to examine the merits of a program that would offer a reward or payment for people who turn in guns.

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