Matthes outlines crime prevention strategies in report to City Council

Friday, June 28, 2013 | 6:56 p.m. CDT; updated 9:15 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 16, 2013

COLUMBIA — A curfew for juveniles would have to protect their constitutional rights and be combined with other strategies for combating crime among young people if it's going to be effective, City Manager Mike Matthes said in a report to the Columbia City Council.

Police Chief Ken Burton advocated a curfew for people younger than 17 during a special meeting Wednesday afternoon held in response to the June 15 downtown shooting that injured three people. Some council members believe a curfew is a partial solution to the problem of youth crime while others believe it's unnecessary.

Matthes' report, called "Tools and Strategies for Addressing Youth and Gang Violence," cites academic research exploring the impact of various solutions to youth crime and offers a rundown of previous conversations on the topic in Columbia. It also summarizes strategies the city already has in place and reprises a bill establishing a curfew that was proposed but failed in 2003.

"Gang violence, juvenile crime and the relationship between the two are unfortunately not new issues for Columbia, and the city has responded with various programs and strategies," Matthes said.

One of Matthes's main points is that curfews must be implemented with other strategies if the city expects them to work. He called for working with parents to ensure teenagers don't become repeat offenders. Rather than referring them to court, he said, violators should be taken to "a facility staffed with volunteers, neighborhood leaders, or even social and psychological professionals." Community service, he said, would be preferable to prosecution in court.

The report also discusses the following strategies and summarizes existing city efforts to address them:

  • Graffiti removal and abatement
  • After-school and evening programs
  • Mentorship
  • Employment programs
  • Early childhood intervention

The report also includes the text of the 2003 bill, which called for a curfew for those younger than 17 between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and between midnight and 5:30 a.m. on weekends. A 2003 report from the Police Department supporting the curfew also is attached.

The possibility of a curfew has surfaced several times over the years in Columbia. Here's a roundup of some of the Missourian's past coverage of those discussions.

Missourian articles are available only to our digital subscribers after the articles have been published on the website for more than 24 hours.

Missourian reporter Yuna Park contributed to this article. Supervising editors are Elizabeth Brixey and Scott Swafford.

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