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Are SDPD’s Curfew Sweeps Doing The Job?

Evening Edition

Above: Keegan Kyle, a voiceofsandiego.org reporter, talks to "Evening Edition" about his latest story on juvenile curfew sweeps.

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Aired 3/13/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests: Keegan Kyle, reporter, VoiceofSanDiego.org

Ramla Sahid, community organizer, Midcity Community Action Network

Transcript

In 2008, the San Diego Police Department began to dramatically increase its enforcement of the city's curfew law for juveniles. During sweeps, juveniles out without an adult after 10 p.m. were arrested and processed.

The goal of the sweeps was to combat violent crime, including gang activity and other felonies, the police said.

But an investigation by voiceofsandiego.org reporter Keegan Kyle found that while crime rates have dropped in areas where curfew sweeps are regularly conducted, they have dropped at a faster rate in areas with no sweeps.

While police say the sweeps collect gang members, runaways and victims of sex trafficking, "if you attend a curfew sweep, you'll also see kids that were leaving a shopping store or maybe a park, maybe kids in soccer cleats," Kyle said.

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

Kyle added that the increase in the number of curfew sweeps comes from shifting priorities in the San Diego Police Department. He said sweeps once or twice a month in City Heights, southeastern San Diego and downtown mean curfew arrests in those areas have tripled in the past five years.

"It's their method of reducing crime during curfew hours," he said. This stoppage of crime includes preventing kids from becoming crime victims and also from perpetrating crimes.

But because areas that do not conduct curfew sweeps have seen more dramatic decreases in crime than areas that do conduct sweeps, the sweeps' effectiveness is questionable, Kyle said.

"Are these additional arrests even needed at all?" he said.

Kyle said his research of the program has led the police department to agree it needs to reexamine the program.

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