What to Know
- A double shooting during a large gathering of teenagers at Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park over the weekend has placed renewed scrutiny on whether or not the city’s curfew policy has been properly enforced as well as whether or not the curfew has been truly effective in curbing violence among young people.
- Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner James Kelly said officers were not initially present at the massive Fairmount Park gathering during the shooting because of limited resources.
- Kelly told NBC10 there will be a dedicated police presence at the Belmont Plateau starting this weekend.
A double shooting during a large gathering of teenagers at Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park over the weekend has placed renewed scrutiny on whether or not the city’s curfew policy has been properly enforced as well as whether or not the curfew has been truly effective in curbing violence among young people.
Investigators said hundreds of teenagers were gathered at the Belmont Plateau at 1800 Belmont Mansion Drive on Sunday at 1:21 a.m. when shots were fired.
A 19-year-old woman was shot in her right shoulder and back while a 20-year-old man was shot in the left leg. Both victims were treated at the hospital. The woman is in critical condition while the man is stable.
The woman told police a driver in a dark sedan pulled up to the gathering moments before the shooting and told members of the crowd they had to leave. A person inside the vehicle then fired multiple shots at the crowd and then fled the scene, according to investigators.
No arrests have been made in the shooting.
As the investigation continues, some are wondering why police didn’t cite any of the teens in the crowd for curfew violations. Currently in the city, children 13 years of age and younger have a 9:30 p.m. curfew while teens between the ages of 14 and 17 have a 10 p.m. curfew.
“There’s curfew for the park but to actively enforce it would be a nearly impossible task,” Philadelphia Police Captain Anthony Ginaldi said.
Philadelphia Police Deputy Commissioner James Kelly also said officers were not initially present at the massive Fairmount Park gathering during the shooting because of limited resources.
“We did have units out there earlier in the night but around 12:15, 12:30, they got redeployed because of ATVs and dirt bikes down near Pennsylvania Avenue,” Kelly said. “It’s just an issue of trying to be in many different places for many different things that are going on.”
Police told NBC10 they’ve issued more than 1100 curfew violations in Philadelphia so far in 2023, an increase from the same time last year.
“We do have a strong emphasis on doing curfews. We’re absolutely up 20 percent for the year in curfews,” Kelly said.
While curfew laws have been in place in Philadelphia for years, city council members placed a greater emphasis on enforcement during the pandemic.
Last summer, the NBC10 Investigators went on a ride along with Philadelphia Police to see how they enforced the curfew law. The Investigators determined that even when police were actively trying to crack down on teens who were out past curfew, the number of young people shot during curfew hours was still higher overall in Philadelphia than in previous summers.
An analysis of gun violence data done by NBC10 Investigators shows an increase in juvenile shootings since the curfew was put in place. NBC10 Investigator Claudia Vargas has a breakdown of the results, and why they turned out the way they did.
“There’s no real simple solution in terms of that,” Kelly said. “It reduces the risk of juveniles being victims of crime or participating in unlawful behavior.”
When it comes to effectively keeping young people safe and out of trouble, Tiera Lanier – a North Philadelphia mother of two teens and a preteen – believes much of the responsibility falls on parents.
“Parents have to step in,” she said. “It’s not just on the teens because my children can’t be outside past the curfew. They’re not even making it to a curfew.”
Lanier also doesn’t believe there are enough programs available for teenagers in the city.
“I don’t even think that the city offers enough books in school,” she said.
A double shooting during a mass gathering of teenagers at Fairmount Park has placed scrutiny on the city’s curfew law and its overall effectiveness. NBC10 investigative reporter Claudia Vargas has responses from police and a community advocate.
Reuben Jones, who runs the local nonprofit Frontline Dads, told NBC10 he is worried about the curfew’s impact on the city’s youth considering a violation is a summary offense.
“Any interaction with police puts kids into the system, unnecessarily,” he said.
Jones believes crime prevention must be done through a combination of responsible parenting and community support.
“We can’t legislate our way out of violence,” he said.
Jones also claimed the curfew predominantly impacts Black and brown kids.
Philadelphia Police are instructed to send quarterly statistics to city council that include the age and race of any curfew violators. The NBC10 Investigators requested that information but have not yet received a response.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Kelly disagrees with the notion that curfew enforcement always leads to negative interactions with police.
“The officers are told to go about it in a very professional way,” Kelly said. “And they’re taking them home to their parents. It’s not like we’re taking them in custody.”
Kelly told NBC10 there will be a dedicated police presence at the Belmont Plateau starting this weekend.