EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso county commissioners approved a late-night curfew for juveniles who are found in public places.
The new curfew extends an older order, saying juveniles under the age of 17 cannot be in public places between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., the same curfew that is already instituted in city limits.
El Paso County Sheriff's Office Commander Ryan Urrutia says the curfew is there to not only to prevent crime, but also to protect minors from being "a victim of crime."
The county let their order lapse during the pandemic because the number of interactions between juveniles and law enforcement had decreased when compared to pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, police had 200 interactions with minors. In 2020 and 2021, the combined total of interactions was 264. But this year, only 8 months in, police have already had 94 interactions and expect there to be around 200 by the end of the year.
EPSO provided the top five crimes minors are committing between 2019 and 2022 during the county commissioners meeting. The top two on the list were assault related, and the next three were drug related. But the office has also seen an uptick in a new, unnerving trend.
“We’re seeing juveniles in possession of handguns, rifles, brass knuckles, which are no longer illegal but are weapons," Cmdr. Urrutia said.
There are exceptions to the curfew. Urrutia explained that minors who were out at that time for school events, volunteering, or family events, for example, would not be breaking the curfew.
Those who are found breaking the curfew can be cited with a Class C misdemeanor, but Urrutia says the main goal is to return a minor back home with their parent or guardian.