The San Diego Police Department is still conducting curfew sweeps, which happen largely in certain neighborhoods. The department has long held that the sweeps are meant to keep young people safe and to deter crime. Here’s what happened when a VOSD reporter joined SDPD for a curfew sweep ride-along, then returned weeks later to experience another curfew sweep from a community resident’s perspective.
Walking to the store for a bag of chips can get a teen arrested.
When San Diego city police find anyone under 18 years old outside after 10 p.m. – officers can swiftly detain, handcuff and haul them away on curfew violation charges.
Youth don’t have to be engaged in any other crime to be arrested during curfew – curfew violation is enough – though, the city’s curfew policy lists ways for youth to avoid arrests after 10 p.m., such as being under adult supervision, or coming from work or school events.
Police in each of the city’s nine neighborhood divisions elect when to practice curfew sweeps, which are police-coordinated events where officers search for minors. The frequency of sweeps depends on the needs of each division’s community and available resources, said Lt. Scott Wahl, a spokesman for the San Diego Police Department.
In 2008, police began conducting monthly curfew sweeps in southeastern San Diego neighborhoods. Minors caught up in the sweeps and their parents were directed to diversion programs. Families faced fines and juvenile records, which could be cleared by completing the classes. Police and residents called the educational initiative a success and expanded the programs to City Heights in 2009 and downtown neighborhoods in 2010.