A new law passed by the state legislature earlier this year, House Bill 1819, prohibits local governments from imposing or enforcing a youth curfew.

Effective Sept. 1, 2023, local governments and police departments must repeal any prior ordinances or policies enforcing a juvenile curfew.

“It takes a tool out of our hands, unfortunately,” said Round Rock Police Chief Allan Banks.

The backstory

Round Rock City Council adopted the curfew policy in 2018, mandating any persons under the age of 17 without a parent or guardian must not be in a public place after midnight during the week and after 1 a.m. on the weekends.

In an effort to prevent truancy, the curfew also prohibited minors from loitering in public places during school hours throughout the week.

Policy for enforcement of the curfew dictated that police were not to give citations for a youth breaking curfew unless the “officer reasonably believes that a [criminal] offense has occurred.”

An analysis of the bill by the Youth Health & Safety Select Committee cited reasons for removing this power from local government.

“Juvenile curfew ordinances are an ineffective way to reduce crime and often lead to negative outcomes for youth in school and future interactions with the justice system,” the committee report stated.

In case you missed it

During an information session with Banks, Place 5 Council Member Kristin Stevens voiced concerns about eliminating the curfew, adding that she often used the policy’s language on her own teenagers.

“How do we expect this to change what y’all are seeing? Change potential criminal activity? And how do we plan to address that?” Stevens said.

Banks responded to the questions saying that because the change was so recent, the department does not have a plan in place. However, the Round Rock Police Department will continue to find new ways to curb juvenile criminal behavior and educate the youth in these situations.

“I think some of the misnomer [includes] the fact that this curfew law is about kids being delinquent late at night,” Banks said. “It's also about daytime curfew. So this really was affecting those kids who were being truant from school as well.”

The police chief also noted the most common criminal activity committed by minors at night includes graffiti and destruction of property.

Quote of note

“You know, I think my fear with it is the teen curfew is not to restrict the kids that are out trying to go make a living and work—we had exceptions for that,” Mayor Craig Morgan said. “It's teens now getting out and getting involved with older people that are not doing good things after midnight. You know, so that's my fear.”