A surge of "flash mobs" and teen violence have led Philadelphia officials to implement newpolicies, including an earlier curfew for minors in some parts of the city, increased police presence in those areas and stricter penalties for parents of teens who repeatedly violate the curfew.
Flash mobs are groups of people who meet at a set location and time advertised on social networking sites. Often, the mobs are harmless pranks, but in Philadelphia, mobs have led to attacks, thefts and other crimes, according to an Associated Press video.
On Monday, Mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order to temporarily begin the curfew at 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for all minors under age 18 in targeted enforcement districts in Center City and University City, where most of the flash mobs had occurred. Throughout the remainder of the city, the curfew will remain 10 p.m. for minors under age 13 and 12 a.m. for minors under age 18. Those changes may be amended after a city council meeting next month. "Today, we are issuing an enforcement response and a community response to these terrible acts by a small number of reckless teenagers who have damaged our city and our citizens," Nutter said in a statement.
Minors who are caught breaking curfew will be sent home, brought home or transported to a police station where their parents will be contacted. Minors may be issued a citation with a $100 to $300 fine for a first offense, and their parents could be fined up to $500 for successive violations. Parents could face up to 90 days in jail if the violations continue. Also, if parents do not pick up their children from the police station within a reasonable time, the city's Department of Human Services will initiate an investigation.
Police will have a greater presence in the targeted enforcement areas until the beginning of the school year, according to Nutter's office, as will volunteers with the city's Safe Corridors campaign. Safe Corridors volunteers will patrol the targeted enforcement areas and contact the police department if they observe violent or suspicious behavior.
In the long term, the police department will enhance communication and coordination during flash mob attacks, and encourage businesses and residents to register their surveillance cameras with the department as part of its SafeCam program. Video from the cameras will be used to assist with the apprehension and prosecution of individuals participating in criminal acts.
At the same time, the city will expand the hours of about 20 recreation centers to give young people safer options than walking the. The centers now will be open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.