DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Deep Ellum is no place for teenagers after hours, Dallas Police say.
Looking to combat concerns about rising crime in the area, they’re getting the word out to parents and their teens that officers will enforce the city’s juvenile curfew.
That means those 16 and under that are out after midnight on weekends can be detained.
“There’s really not anything for them down here, especially after the juvenile curfew hours,” says Deputy Chief Thomas Castro. “Number one, it’s against the law.”
It’s also a problem, agrees Robert Ayala at Maracas restaurant in Deep Ellum. “They’re walking around saying, ‘do you let 18 year olds in here?’ No. ‘Under 18?’ No.”
In addition to enforcing the curfew, department leaders plan to shift more officers to the busy entertainment district on weekends as well, so 20 to 30 officers will be on patrol.
With rising crime a concern across the city, Chief Castro says the additional officers will not come at the expense of safety in other neighborhoods.
Rather, he says officers from within his division will be assigned based on where the needs are greatest, and right now that’s Deep Ellum.
He says encouraging parents to keep tabs on their teenagers is an important first step.
“It’s for their protection as well,” adds Chief Castro. “Sometimes when you get a group of juveniles, they encourage each other to do things that they normally wouldn’t do, that aren’t probably in their best interest.”
He says teens will at first be given a warning because the goal of the ordinance isn’t to write tickets, but to get compliance and keep young North Texans safe.
“That’s why a lot of places are getting bouncers, checking IDs to make sure they’re 21 and older because there are a lot kids down here during the summer time,” says Ayala. “Shouldn’t even be down here.”
Dallas Police also plan to partner with DART officers to give them a warning if large crowds of teenagers are spotted on the platforms near curfew and appear to be headed to Deep Ellum.
Those DART officers will first encourage the teens to go home.