PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va. — Prince George's County Executive Alsobrooks announced Monday that a curfew banning teenagers from public places late at night would start to be enforced, citing a spike in gun violence and carjackings.
Teens under the age of 17 are required to be in their homes between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:59 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Teenagers out during those hours must be with an adult.
A warning will be sent out to the parents or guardians of any child out past curfew, and children will be released to social services if the parent or guardian cannot be reached.
Parents of teens out past curfew, and owners of businesses allowing them on premise after curfew, will face a $50 fine for the first offense,$100 for a second offense, and $250 for subsequent offenses.
The curfew is not a new law, but has been on the books in Prince George's County for decades.
“We last saw this curfew strongly enforced in 1995," Alsobrooks said. "We feel that the facts and circumstances warrant us doing it again."
Prince George's County police have arrested "an eye-opening" 430 kids, Alsobrooks said. At least 84 juveniles of those 430 kids were arrested for carjackings, while 55 of them had prior offenses and 34 had a prior gun or violent crimes, according to Alsobrooks.
In addition, Alsobrooks said August was the single deadliest month in Prince George's County history. Monday's press conference came on the heels of nine people being shot over Labor Day weekend. A 15-year-old died and three people were wounded after a shooting at a 7-Eleven in Capitol Heights Saturday night. On the same night, two teenagers were shot outside the AMC Magic Johnson Capital Center parking lot. The next day, on Sunday, a 1-year-old girl was hospitalized after being shot inside an apartment complex in Glenn Dale.
"These are children committing these crimes targeting other children and targeting adults," Alsobrooks said. "Armed and dangerous children. We are still seeing concerning levels of crime and far too often, we're seeing that many of the carjackings that we have experienced in our community are being perpetuated by children."
Alsobrooks added half of the 84 teens arrested this year for carjacking were under the age of 15. As of right now, there have been 350 carjackings this year, which represents a 52% increase compared to 2021, according to Alsobrooks. In 2019, there were 91 carjackings in total.
"We're finding that each year, not only do we have more carjackings, but we're also arresting more juveniles," Alsobrooks said. "So, it's clear that the problem is what happens after the arrest or, in our case, what doesn't happen."
Alsobrooks said she has held press conferences and crime summits in the county to help combat the rise of crime, but now is the time to take action, she said.
"I'm going to put it very bluntly: somebody has got to take responsibility for these armed and dangerous children, and it's not just the police and not just the government," the county executive said. ""These kids don't just need a hug. They also need to be held accountable. I know this isn't the popular thing to say, but the truth of the matter is, it's a fair question. Where are their parents? Where are the aunties, where are the uncles and other family members who are responsible for them?"
Alsobrooks said she requested an emergency meeting with the Department of Juvenile Services and to continue to work collaboratively with the court system to understand how these kids are being able accountable.
"[We] all share one vision and that is to help our young men and women get back on their feet and be successful citizens," DJS Director of Communicartions Eric Solomon said. "We must work together to help our children ... DJS welcomes the opportunity to meet with the County Executive to discuss issues related to Prince George's County."
Alsobrooks also called on the courts and the Department of Juvenile Services to release their numbers on outstanding cases and dispositions to the public.
"DJS is just one of many stakeholders in the Juvenile Justice System," Solomon said. "Law enforcement and the courts also play a major role. All DJS youth are placed and released by the courts. The department does not have that authority."
The existing curfew law will go into effect this upcoming weekend for the next 30 days.
"We can continue to spend resources on these issues, but until people start being held accountable, we're not going to fully be able to tackle this issue in our community," Alsobrooks said. "We don't need just warnings, but the people who are committing these acts of violence in our community now need to be held accountable and face consequences for absolutely terrorizing our community."