The board of police commissioners believes a city-wide youth curfew would not be the best use of police resources in Saskatoon after a local woman came forward about her concerns with youth “running wild” on the streets late at night.
“Curfews are extremely hard to enforce. I’m really not sure it is a police function,” Deputy Chief Bernie Pannell told reporters following Thursday’s board meeting.
It’s after Agatha Eaglechief, a mother who lives in the Confederation Park neighbourhood, asked the commissioners to consider a curfew to help curb youth crime in Saskatoon. Even though she didn’t get the answer she’d hoped for, she said she still believes in her cause and plans on taking the issue to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN).
“A curfew would help by giving the youths responsibility. They’ll have some respect for the parents because the parents have to endorse this. So that’s some kind of control that the parents can have over the kids as well,” said Eaglechief’s aunt, Viola Sparvier, who attended the meeting alongside her niece.
Ward 1 Councillor Darren Hill sits on the board and said while the topic generated a lot of public discussion, the community response appeared to be overwhelmingly opposed to creating a curfew.
“They said they see this as a parental responsibility, not that of the Saskatoon Police Service’s,” Hill said.
Board member and Ward 6 Councillor Charlie Clark pointed out that some young people might also be escaping a violent or unsafe situation at home.
Pannell said youth crime is a problem in Saskatoon, with kids between the ages of 13 and 18 being the most likely to be involved with criminal activities. But the city’s demographic is shifting to a younger population overall, he pointed out.
More youth programs at night and on the weekends could possibly decrease the amount of kids roaming the streets with “idle hands,” Hill pointed out.
Pannell agreed after-school programs that get kids involved with sports, art or music would be a more effective way of keeping youth out of trouble than imposing a curfew.
“It gives a lot of people a sense of belonging that in some cases they don’t have in their lives,” he said.
While a curfew is not something the Saskatoon Police Service would be considering, Pannell said they would enforce one if a bylaw were ever created.