D.C. Police Chief Maurice Turner said last night that he has asked Mayor Marion Barry to introduce legislation calling for a late night curfew on persons less than 18 years old as a means of curbing crime.
The proposed curfew would permit police to stop and question youths who are on the streets from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekdays and from midnight to 6 a.m. on weekends, the chief said. Those without a valid reason for being out could be taken into custody for questioning, he said. Turner said he favors enforcing the curfew by penalizing the parents of youths in violation of it.
A similar curfew has been proposed unsuccessfully before the D.C. City Council at least twice since 1971. Advocates argued that such a measure would be particularly effective against street crime. Opponents contended that it would be unconstitutional, would force confrontations between police and teen-agers and would be difficult to enforce.
"We've got to do something to fight crime in this city," Turner said last night in an interview, asserting that 35 to 40 percent of the crime in Washington is committed by youths.
Alluding to a curfew measure proposed six years ago, he added: "In 1976 the drawback was how to hold a parent responsible for the child. Maybe the council can resolve that matter now."
Another proposal in Turner's package would bar youths from loitering in stores during school hours on weekdays and would be enforced by fining the owners of the stores.
The curfew proposal, part of a package of measures aimed at curbing crime that Turner said he submitted to Barry over the weekend, appears similar to a measure under consideration in Arlington.
The proposed Arlington ordinance, one provision of which would keep children under 16 off the streets and out of public places between midnight and 5 a.m., is to be the subject of a public hearing Nov. 20. The Arlington proposal also would make it illegal for businesses to allow youths to loiter on the premises during school hours.
Barry could not be reached last night for comment on Turner's proposals. Judith W. Rodgers, the city's corporation counsel, who is the mayor's chief legal officer, said she had not seen the proposals and did not wish to comment on them until she does.