Dubuque Safe Community Task Force recommends curfew - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Safe Community Task Force recommends curfew

DUBUQUE (KWWL)-- Curfews are not only a big debate for parents, they're also heated topic among many city leaders.

City wide curfews are on the books in Waterloo and Cedar Rapids. Last December, Iowa City passed an ordinance keeping kids under the age of 18 off the streets at night.

Curfew supporters say it's a tool to keep underage crime from rising. But not everyone sides with that argument.

Monday night, Dubuque's Safe Community Task Force presented its recommendations to the city council to implement a curfew.  

The task force also recommended the city provide resources for the community policing program, focus on quality of life issues and support landlords in evicting problems.

In a packed city hall meeting, dozens of people gathered to hear the latest from the Dubuque Safe Community Task Force.

"We have people from all walks of live. And all parts of town and all different areas of expertise," Task Force member Doug Stillings said.

One of many recommendations, a juvenile curfew, is designed to help reduce crime.

"Possibly makes the parents and guardians a little bit more accountable for the children in their home." Stillings said.

According to the Dubuque Police Department, a large number of crimes are coming from people age 12-17. From 2008 to 2009 there were 1289 juvenile crimes committed; 228 were disorderly conduct; 195 were runaways and 144 were liquor law violations.

But not everyone's thinks a curfew would solve the problem.

"Kids that are in the system are typical subject to curfews already and already don't follow them. And I don't think that's gonna have an impact on whether they change their course of conduct," Dubuque County Attorney Lyle Galliart said. And task force members agree, it isn't the only answer to a crime problem.

"Curfew could be a double edged sword. You can end up having your police department doing nothing but baby-sitting," Stillings said.

He also said it all comes down to perception. Stillings says he hopes the latest recommendations help change the perception of crime in Dubuque.

"The statistics don't really show that. But perception becomes reality regardless of the statistics," Stillings said.

The task force is also waiting on results from a crime study being conducted at Northern Illinois University. That should be complete by September. Task force members say they'll likely have more recommendations once those findings are released.

They also recommended several other ideas to the council; several regarding neighborhood engagement.

They support a welcoming a program for all new members of the community, would like to install street lights in the middle of the block to brighten up streets at night, and also improve neighborhoods by encouraging ownership. They also want an ordinance prohibiting the boarding of windows and doors facing the street.

The council accepted the recommendations and will hand them off to city staff.  They will look at ways to implement the recommendations and possibly turn them into a reality.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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