by Sam Levin
As we reported yesterday, it was a particularly violent weekend in the city of St. Louis with more than a dozen people injured in shootings and stabbings -- including four shot in one incident at a Midtown gas station at around 1:30 a.m.
The shootings caught the attention of St. Louis Alderwoman Marlene Davis, who is arguing that parents and residents need to do more to help police curb violence plaguing the city. One possible remedy? Stricter curfews.
"We need to get some control over what is happening on our city streets," Davis, who represents the Midtown neighborhood, tells Daily RFT. "There are not enough police on this earth to take care of the problems on their own. It's the community who is going to have to be a part of it. We have to get parents to get kids off the street."
See also: - Sagging Ban in St. Louis: Alderwoman Pushes to Outlaw Pants Below Waist - Antonio French Slams Saggy Pants Ban Bill, Says Wrong To "Criminalize Fashion" - Four Shot at St. Louis Gas Station, 11 Others Injured in Weekend Shootings, Stabbings
One possible initiative to make that happen, she argues, is stricter enforcement of the curfew policy that currently exists in city code -- or perhaps passing tougher policies altogether.
Davis made headlines last week when she held a community forum on her controversial Board of Aldermen bill to ban sagging pants in the city. Daily RFT chatted with Davis again yesterday after we noticed a comment she made to KTVI (Channel 2) apparently calling for a curfew in the wake of the weekend violence.
Davis tells us that she has since spoken with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department about potential changes to curfew ordinances and learned that there is already a law on the books that regulates when minors can be outside.
City code says it's unlawful for any juvenile to be on the streets between 11:59 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights (and starting at 11 p.m. on all other nights). This, the code says, includes "streets, alleys, rights-of-way or similar places." As written, the ordinance outlines of a range of exceptions, including when minors are with their parents or on direct route home from a school or city-sponsored event.
Davis says the city cannot legally impose any sort of curfew for adults -- but notes that it's unclear to her how police enforce the existing policy. (There are outdated ordinances like the ban on condom sales that still exist, but are not enforced in any capacity).
"I am sick and tired of it," she says of crime in the city. "It's enough.... I just believe that we can do better. I'm not blaming anything on police. It's not their job to raise...children right. It's not their job to know where children are all the time."
Parents need to do better, she says, and there need to be more options available for youth who might otherwise be engaged in dangerous activity on the streets.
"I've got to get other people to understand our responsibility in the community," she says.
Davis says she is in the early stages of considering some sort of curfew initiative, but firsts wants to discuss it with relevant law enforcement officials.
She doesn't have specifics to offer yet on potentially stricter curfew proposals, saying, "I know what I believe might help. I also know I have to deal with all those legalities as well.... There may already be enough on the books. When you already have something on the books, we as a body of people have to put some importance on enforcement."
A curfew is just one piece of the puzzle to combating crime, she adds.
"It's an ongoing conversation to find ways to get more people involved in positive things," she says. "We've got all these social service organizations out there. But at the end of the day, something's not working. We've got to do more."
Davis notes that the latest shooting in Midtown is not typical and argues that crime is down in her district. "This is not the norm of what happens in the Midtown community.... These are not people from our neighborhood."