Thursday, December 28, 2000

City police criticize curfew center monitoring

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Top police administrators say the city's curfew centers are “logistically and conceptually flawed,” are costly and don't provide services for the vast majority of juvenile offenders.

        But at the same time Police Chief Thomas Streicher says the curfew centers should be abolished, he recommends that the agency hired to monitor them should continue with its $39,000-a-year contract despite its failure to provide records for a police review of the program.

        “That's unbelievable,” said Councilman Pat DeWine. “The administration is telling us this program is ineffective and that people aren't meeting terms of contract, but they're saying let's give them the money anyway.”

        In March, the police department recommended doing away with the curfew center program for a cheaper alternative, but City Council voted instead to continue using recreation centers as drop-off points for juveniles picked up on curfew violations and staffing them with two city employees six hours a day.

        The council also extended a $39,000 contract with Brown and Associates to monitor the curfew program for possible mistreatment of juvenile offenders.

        Mr. DeWine and Councilman Phil Heimlich say the contract was extended because Brown and Associates is a member of the Baptist Ministers Conference, which oversees the curfew program.

        The Rev. Ardie Brown, president of Brown and Associates and a pastor at the First Baptist Church of Hartwell, adamantly disagrees. He said if it weren't for the curfew centers, “kids would be running rampant.”

        He said the ministers took on oversight in 1994 after concerns were raised about how curfew violators were treated.

        In a report to City Council last week, Chief Streicher said fewer than 4 percent of juveniles picked up on curfew violations ever see the inside of curfew centers that the city paid $153,833 last year to operate. And r no mistreatment of juveniles has been found in the last two years, he said.

        Instead of going to a curfew center, he said juveniles should be taken home. If a guardian can't be found, then the juveniles should be taken to the juvenile detention center and the Lighthouse Youth Crisis Center.

        “If the curfew program is not working, it's because the police are not picking the kids up,” the Rev. Mr. Brown said.

        Chief Streicher said that Brown and Associates has failed to provide daily time sheets, documentation of follow-up contacts and a description of employee duties.

        Calling the police report “a lie,” the Rev. Mr. Brown said he did not turn over documents to the police because the request came at a time “when (officials) were attacking every organization run by blacks in the city.”

        Mr. DeWine said the council needs to cut the contract and stop using the curfew centers.


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