Monday night the Rockford City Council voted unanimously in favor of a daytime curfew ordinance. That means between the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. anyone under the age of 17 will be fined if caught in public places.
But that's just the start of how the city and the Rockford Public School District plan to reduce juvenile crime and attack a major truancy problem. Right now our truancy rate is 8.3% but with a new campaign starting the hope is to reduce that number to 5%. But it's not just the students who have to get their “ACT” together and it's up to all of us to Abolish Chronic Truancy.
Mayor Morrissey says, "It can't be enough to have an ordinance passed by the council and the have the police department be out there to deal with the curfew ordinance. Truly to deal with truancy we will have a holistic approach."
Expect to hear radio and TV commercials advertising a truancy hotline number.
966-5252 is the number we all need to keep on speed dial. The purpose of the hotline is to collect information such as where children who are skipping school are gathering. The districts social services department will monitor the hotline from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Rockford Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson states, "We'll take your name and we need a description of what they've seen and where the juveniles are at."
This is the city's and the school district’s first attempt at community policing.
Dr. Thompson says, "Kids have told us that unless there are consequences they will do what they want. Now we have those consequences."
Rockford police officers will be in charge of issuing a citation if a student under the age of 17 is caught. And get this, the ordinance also allows the court to order parents and juveniles to perform community service work for violating the law.
Mayor Morrissey states, "We are giving our officers a tool to address a problem that they already see. Before they would see littering and truancy and couldn't do anything about it."
Mayor Morrissey says the city is in the process of training more critically needed officers to help with enforcement. Also the juvenile court system will be monitored to make sure it can handle some extra cases.
But what happens when a student is seen outside the city limits? That is a concern and the city hopes Winnebago County and other municipalities follow Rockford's lead.