SAN ANTONIO – My Brother's Keeper San Antonio is calling on council members to do away with a city ordinance they said is criminalizing teenagers, instead of helping them.
When police catch kids under the age of 16 outside at night between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. the Youth Curfew Ordinance allows the officer to cite them. Violators could also receive a fine up to $500.
Wednesday, the organization hosted a community dialogue session to discuss different solutions that could replace the ordinance that is up for renewal later this month.
"We are presenting solutions like restorative justice, re-engagement center and things that really navigate and get out children on the right path," said Akeem Brown of MBKSA.
Brown said the ordinance creates a negative interaction with police at a young age.
"The problem that we have is that kids are being criminalized for normal activity and so if you are leaving work or headed to grab something at the store for your family then you shouldn't be criminalized," said Akeem Brown of MBKSA.
Brown added if a teen is caught engaging in criminal-like activity, that's when restorative justice, not citations, should be an option for city leaders.
Part of the panel was the Harlandale Independent School District patrol sergeant, Gabriel Gutierrez. He advised that the ordinance should remain in place.
"The ordinance, itself, should stay because it's for the safety of the kids. It keeps them safe, there is a lot of predators out there and some areas are really bad," said Guiterrez.
In 2017, Gutierrez said out of the 68 teens his department approached, only 20 were given citations. The other 48 kids received warnings.
"A lot of time we actually release them to the parents and just give them a heads up of what's going on," said Gutierrez.
For those who have been cited, he's open to changing the consequences in hopes that the point will get across to the kids and their families.
The city's Public Safety Committee will review the ordinance at a meeting on April 24.