Cambridge mayor seeks youth services suggestions instead of proposed curfew

CAMBRIDGE, Md. – Controversy continues as Cambridge City Commissioners consider a curfew for children ages 15 and under. Now, the Mayor is asking for the public’s help in finding other solutions.

Curfew Controversy

The proposal comes in response to rising levels of street violence in certain neighborhoods. However, Mayor Steve Rideout says curfews do not work. So now, he is asking the community to help him come up with solutions.

“If one part of town needs help, then we need to help them. But, how do we help them? It’s not with a curfew. It’s by providing the resources and the programming,” said Mayor Rideout. “This time, I think because of the propose curfew ordinance, and what has been the community’s response, I felt it was a really good time to talk about this particular issue.”

Mayor Rideout says he does not feel a curfew would be a good blanket solution for all of the needs of Cambridge’s youth. He says another concern he has with the proposed curfew is the potential strain it could put on local law enforcement.

“In our community, we have a police force that’s down 11 officers. Chief [Justin] Todd is doing a great job trying to readjust schedules and whatnot,” said Mayor Rideout. “But, the reality is, are we going to have a police force that’s down 11 officers, now taking on a new responsibility, on top of all the responsibility they have?”

Finding Other Solutions

Solutions that do not involve a curfew can look like improved youth programming and services, according to the Mayor. However, he says those changes cannot come without suggestions.

“It’s not that the kids and the parents aren’t responding to the programs. It may be that we didn’t have the right programs in the first place,” said Mayor Rideout. “If parents and kids weren’t interested in the programs, then maybe the programs weren’t right. Maybe we needed to rethink what we’re doing to try to find the good medium.”

Dorchester County Public Schools Superintendent David Bromwell says he’s already seen how desperate some students are for an outlet. When Mace’s Lane Middle School started up its dance team, Bromwell says 83 girls signed up.

“The kids are dying to do things, and we need to do our best to provide it. What you see in your community spills over into your schools. That’s why we’ve done the best we can to make sure our schools can remain safe and we’re providing the outlying community resources,” said Bromwell. “We have our students for six and a half hours a day, in a 24 hour period, only five days a week.”

Facing Challenges

Bromwell says finding the right stuff to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble is one thing. But, getting families to commit, is another. The reasons that parents may not be able to be more involved in their children’s’ lives are complex and varied, says Bromwell.

“I’d like to believe [students] have a well-rounded family situation with supports that are in place. But, let’s be realistic. In a lot of instances, they’re not, whether the parents have one, two, even three jobs,” said Bromwell. “You have to be part of your child’s life, and I think that’s a key piece in this whole puzzle. We do have some unbelievable parents. But, right now I think that there is a core of apathy.”

Mayor Rideout says that becomes an even bigger challenge when parents might be dealing with tough situations at home while trying to pay the bills.

“I see some parents who are overwhelmed by their children, or are afraid of their children, or have children that are running the households, or parents who are working two or three jobs,” said Mayor Rideout. “It’s not because the kids are bad or the parents or bad. It’s because of the circumstances of the family and the economics of the family.”

Asking For Suggestions

For that reason, Mayor Rideout says he needs the community’s help in solving this puzzle.

“You’ve got to listen to the kids in the community, and hear what they’re saying, and then try to adapt to and adjust to what the community wants,” said Mayor Rideout. “They need to tell us what they want to do. And, out of that, hopefully we can find some resources to make that happen.”

With answers as to what exactly is wanted and needed in hand, Mayor Rideout says action can be taken. And when those actions happen, he hopes to see a ripple effect among the youth in Cambridge.

“They’re out there telling their friends ‘Wow, I’m having a great time here. Come on.’ They pull them along with them. But, if they’re not enjoying themselves, they’re not going to invite them to come along,” said Mayor Rideout.

On November 28th, Mayor Rideout will host a public forum to collect feedback from the community one how the City’s youth programming and services can be improved. It will be held at 6 p.m. in City Council chambers. Those who are not able to attend in person can livestream the forum by clicking here.

Categories: Local News, Maryland