SANTA FE ― Yesterday bipartisan legislation that would authorize local governments to impose curfews on minors under the age of 16 from midnight to 5 a.m. passed the House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee by a 4-3 vote.
The bill, HB 29, is sponsored by Republican Rep. Nate Gentry and Democrat Rep. Carl Trujillo.
“No good can come from young teens roaming the streets after midnight,” Gentry said. “This legislation will protect our children from the dangerous situations that result from unsupervised minors being out on the street during the early morning hours.”
The legislation was crafted in response to recent violent incidents involving minors. Steven Gerecke was gunned down in his driveway by six minors at 3 a.m. in June last year. Also, a 14-year-old student, Isaiah Albright, was shot and killed around 2 a.m. at Pat Hurley Park on Albuquerque’s Westside by another minor a month later.
The legislation is supported by Albuquerque Westside City Councilor Ken Sanchez.
Currently, law enforcement has little authority to detain children out during school hours or at night without reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed. This bill would allow officers to detain minors, and it would provide guidelines on how law enforcement should handle children who are caught violating a curfew. This legislation would prohibit children from being placed in secure settings for violating a curfew.
Additionally, the bill provides a variety of exemptions for children who have reason to be out during the regulated times, such as if they are participating in a school function, accompanied by their parent or guardian, or attending a civic or religious function. This legislation excludes emancipated youth from its provisions.