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LAPD adjusts daytime curfew policy

April 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
The LAPD is changing the way it enforces daytime curfew laws.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights groups are praising the Los Angeles Police Dept. They said how the daytime curfew law is now being enforced is something that they welcome and they say it's long overdue.

When school is in session it is illegal for students to be out in public skipping class. They are in violation of daytime curfew, a law designed to curb juvenile crime.

But the ACLU and the Community Rights Campaign say the LAPD has ticketed for tardiness 47,000 students over a four-year period with hefty fines.

Some students at Roosevelt High School told teacher Jorge Lopez they were being harassed by police.

"We want to create a culture where students feel nurtured on campus, not feel afraid to come to campus," said Lopez.

The LAPD began working with community groups to address their concerns to revise how the police enforce the daytime curfew policy. Officers will now not ticket students in the first hour of classes and police are encouraged not to ticket those who are clearly on their way to school.

"Police officers are going to have to ask students what their intention is," said Manuel Criollo, Community Rights Campaign. "In other words, if your intention is to going to school, then you shouldn't be ticketed. I think that's an important sort of distinction that this policy has set."

Matthew Lopez says he was ticketed last year but the ticket was dismissed because he was not in violation of daytime curfew.

"It's more of a waste of time than helping us out. It's just a bad experience for anyone. It's scary too," said Lopez.

Lopez's mother says she realizes police are trying to crack down on kids committing crimes, but she says officers need to encourage students to go to class rather than write tickets many families can't afford.

"They're trying to do their job, but for harassing these kids in the perimeter when they're going to school and they're walking to school and then just to stop them, that's time consuming," said Matthew's mother, Melissa Lopez. "That's a minute of their time to give them a ticket, stop them, and now he's missing his school."

The new policy went into effect April 1, and teachers at Roosevelt said they have already noticed a difference. They said attendance is up and students are on time to class.


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