Best Practices

Mayor Skip Rimsza

Juvenile Curfew

Because of increased crime and gang activity among juveniles, the Phoenix City Council decided to create a Juvenile Curfew Program. Phoenix has had a curfew on the records since the 1960s, but it was not enforced. The existing ordinance also needed to be changed because the wording did not specifically include 14-year-olds.

The Council agreed that the program must be straightforward and easy to understand. Curfew hours, therefore, were set at 10 p.m. every day for youths 15 years old and younger, and midnight every day for 16- and 17-year-olds. It was clearly defined that if youths were on legitimate business, going to or from work or with an adult, they would not be picked up for violating curfew.

Phoenix tried a unique approach with its program: we combined the resources of the Police and the Parks, Recreation and Library departments. When youths are picked up for violating curfew, they are not taken to the nearest police station. Instead they are brought to one of four Phoenix parks and detained until their parents or guardians can pick them up. This frees up police officers who normally would have to spend up to two hours booking the juveniles. It also involves recreation specialists from the parks department who can provide counseling and other support to the kids if necessary.

The Juvenile Curfew Program began as a pilot program in February 1993 in West Phoenix. The city had received input from hundreds of residents who were interested in getting youths off the streets late at night, but we wanted to make certain that the public was willing to accept this type of program.

To inform the public, the Public Information Office and city council members conducted a news conference, met with editorial boards, distributed public service announcements and participated in numerous radio and television interviews live from the park locations where the kids would be brought for violating curfew. We also arranged "ride alongs" with the Police Department for reporters from the two largest daily newspapers, The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette, so they could experience firsthand what was happening on the streets late at night.

To make certain the public was informed of the intent of the program, the Public Information Office designed and printed 10,000 Q&A brochures, in English and Spanish, that described the curfew program, its hours and purpose. The brochures were distributed to the media, the city's 350 neighborhood associations, schools, police stations and libraries, and were available at each of the park locations. These brochures recently were updated and reprinted.

The Council and staff were amazed at the overwhelming success of the pilot program and in response to the outcry from residents throughout Phoenix who said, "We want the curfew program in our area," the program was expanded to include North and East Phoenix in March 1993, South Phoenix in April, and the entire city in May.

Although Phoenix is the eighth largest city in the nation, we have more than 400 very organized, active neighborhood organizations that always are pleased to provide us feedback on our programs. This continues to be positive.

Additionally, the City Council Public Safety Subcommittee conducted a public hearing on June 28, 1994 to review the one-year progress of the program and receive input from residents. Although there was some opposition, which is to be expected, the overwhelming majority of comments were positive and supportive of the program.

In addition to local news coverage, the Phoenix program has received national print and broadcast media attention including coverage on the ABC affiliate television station in Orlando, ABC's 20/20 and most recently, the San Diego Tribune. Our program also has been used as a model for other cities throughout the United States, such as Denver and Cincinnati, and we continue to receive inquiries from across the nation.


Bus Card Plus

The Bus Card Plus Program was initiated to attract riders to the bus system and to provide employers a device to record their employees' use of public transit.

In 1988, Maricopa County approved a "travel reduction" ordinance. The statute required employers with more than 100 employees to reduce single-occupant vehicle trips to work by five percent in two years. Transit staff offered employers information about the bus system. However, there was no way to track bus ridership to verify that travel was reduced by five percent.

The problem was solved by developing the Bus Card Plus Program. Magnetic card-readers were installed on the electronic fareboxes on every bus. Passengers slide plastic "credit cards" through the reader, which reads information encoded on the magnetic strips on the cards. The information is stored and downloaded nightly, and each month employers receive detailed billing summaries from which ridership statistics can be determined. Electronic billing is available for participating companies to enable them to charge employees for bus rides through payroll deductions.

The City of Phoenix Public Transit Department, in conjunction with its management contractor, Phoenix Transit System, allowed Phoenix to be the first in the nation to issue transit credit cards for bus fare. Most fare instruments are paid for prior to riding the bus and are priced at a flat fee. The Bus Card Plus Program bills the user monthly only for the amount of time the bus is ridden the month prior -- never more than the monthly pass.

Because the travel reduction ordinance now includes businesses with 50 or more employees, the potential market for the Bus Card Plus Program is 1,800 employers and 384,000 employees. As of May 1, 1995, approximately 180 companies have joined the program, including major employers such as Maricopa County, the City of Phoenix, IBM, The Dial Corporation, Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service Company, Honeywell, Motorola, BankOne, and Bank of America. More than 33,000 Bus Card Plus cards have been issued to employees of participating organizations.

For the fiscal year 1992-93, the Bus Card Plus Program grossed $785,200. At the start of the program there was concern that the amount of monthly passes, tickets and other fare media sold would decrease as the amount of Bus Card Plus cards sold increased. However, the Bus Card Plus Program was targeted toward a brand new customer, one who had never before used the transit system. As a result, sales of other fare media remained steady as sales of the Bus Card Plus cards increased.

The Bus Card Plus Program's most important achievement has been the ability to offer Maricopa County businesses an opportunity to easily and effectively meet the trip reduction ordinance specifications by helping to get more individuals out of single-occupancy vehicles and onto the public transit system. This achievement has helped to show the good will and intentions of the City of Phoenix Public Transit Department and Phoenix Transit System to area businesses.


Neighbors Helping Neighbors Water Conservation

Since 1985, Phoenix has enjoyed considerable success in promoting water conservation. Program penetration of inner city neighborhoods, however, has been minimal. Since saving water also saves money, finding a way to deliver water conservation programs to inner city residents represents a prime opportunity to assist those residents least likely to be able to invest in conservation technology as a response to cost increases.

The Phoenix Water Services Department has developed a public-private partnership in response to this challenge. The three goals of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors program are: to assist residents in achieving water conservation in areas with high water consumption, economic hardship, and a high level of crime activity; to provide a catalyst for neighborhood self-help for home preservation and crime prevention; and to provide job training and employment opportunities for Phoenix residents -- particularly youths at risk for gang involvement.

The program began in September 1994 and targets low income neighborhoods with free water audits, plumbing repair, and change-out of high use toilets and showerheads with low flow fixtures. Repair and installation are handled by apprentice plumbers at MetroTech Vocational Institute of Phoenix, the local vocational high school. On completion of the course, students are able to "shop" for up to $200 worth of professional tools.

One hundred homes were scheduled for completion by May 31, 1995, and the program has been extended through calendar year 1997.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (602) 262-5583

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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