Anti-loitering bill also shelved for now
Update 4:00 p.m.: Councilman Craig Rice supports the proposed curfew for teenagers in Montgomery County and wanted his colleagues to vote on it today. Instead, they tabled it. The decision to do so by new council president Roger Berliner infuriated Rice, who thought it broke council rules.
"I just would like to state for the record that I believe a travesty of justice has just been implemented by our council president," says Rice.
The council attorney ruled that the motion to table the bill did not break any rules. Tabling the controversial measure means it can be brought up again and voted on during the next 18 months. There were not enough votes to pass the measure today.
Rice supports the curfew, and says he frequently visits a 7-11 in
Germantown in his council district that was robbed earlier this summer
by a flash mob of teens. Supporters of the curfew believe it would have
prevented such an incident. Video of the robbery is posted on the
Internet, and Rice says he's even read what he calls "racist" comments
on one site. In particular, Rice said one remark called for any future
such robberies be dealt with by shooting the teens.
"We can make a statement and keep just at least one from making a bad decision. And keep them out of harm's way. To run into someone like this who has the mindset to say they're better of dead than robbing a store."
By taking no action, police chief Thomas Manger says the council is "crossing its fingers" and hoping no new incidents occur.
"The sentiment from the council seemed to be: things aren't bad enough," says Manger. "I disagree. I don't think we should wait for things to get bad enough to take this kind of action."
Had a vote been taken, the curfew would have been rejected. By tabling it, the curfew can be brought back up again over the next 18 months. The council also yesterday tabled an anti-loitering bill considered an alternative to the curfew proposal.
The curfew was proposed over the summer after an incident involving some juveniles in Silver Spring. County Executive Isiah Leggett said at the time that teens from neighboring Prince George's County and D.C. met up in Silver Spring because those other jurisdictions had curfews, while Montgomery County didn't.
Council members have ignored Leggett's plea to pass the curfew quickly. Today will be the first time the full council will take up the measure. The curfew would run from 11 p.m.-5 a.m. weeknights, and from midnight-5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Council member Roger Berliner, who's expected to be elevated to council president today, says he will ask his colleagues to shelve the plan, as there are not enough votes currently to pass it. Shelving the curfew means it can be brought up again in the next 18 months.
As an alternative to the curfew, Council member Phil Andrews proposed an anti-loitering measure in November. That proposal will also be taken up today, but will likely suffer the same fate as the curfew.
"I think it's a more focused tool than the curfew. And it is in place in other places," Andrews says. "But will the county police still be able to do a good job? Sure."
Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger is in favor of the curfew, but the local police union is against it.