EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser is vetoing the action taken by the El Paso City Council to eliminate curfew for minors after House Bill 1819 was passed, which forbids Texas cities and counties from enforcing a curfew for those under 18.

Leeser filed a memorandum with the city clerk to notify city council, the Interim City Manager and members of the public that he is vetoing Agenda Item 37, which was approved by city council on Tuesday, Aug. 15, according to a press release sent by the city.

Leeser included a list of reasons for his veto which are the following:

  1. Since the action was taken, the feedback I have received from community members overwhelmingly supports retaining the ordinance as it stands. I have received a reaction from El Pasoans with serious concerns over the negative impact lifting the curfew would have on our community.
  2. I have consulted with our primary local law enforcement agency leadership (EPPD and the Sheriff’s Department), and they support and recommend this action.
  3. Since it was first established in 1991, the curfew ordinance has been a resourceful tool to protect and prevent our children and teens from becoming victims of crimes and/or being involved in illicit activity.
  4. It is an important tool for our officers. While the issuance of curfew citations has fluctuated throughout the years, during high rates of criminal activity, the curfew ordinance is used in conjunction with other efforts to deter criminal actions and allows our officers to gain safety control in our city. It is one of the means that is attributed with helping make our city one of the safest major cities in the United States.
  5. In addition to the counsel I received from our local law enforcement, major organizations from large cities throughout Texas such as the Dallas Police Department and Police Association, the San Antonio Police Association and the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) – the largest police association in the state – opposed this bill.
  6. There are 254 counties in Texas. Each one faces different threats, risk factors, geographic challenges and dynamics that should be thoughtfully considered and uniquely addressed. I believe discretionary authority on this matter should rest at the local level, directly in relation to local constituent concerns.
  7. We have experienced loss of lives in El Paso in recent years that have changed us and made us more aware of the vulnerability we all face. One life lost is one life too many. The risk of recruitment for criminal activity in the late hours of the night, and the availability of immediate life-threatening drugs such as fentanyl is far more prevalent now than in previous generations. Any tool that allows our community to safeguard the safety of our children is a tool worth keeping.

Leeser says taking a veto action is not something he takes lightly; it is a careful consideration that he arrived at his decision.

“While I understand that state law supersedes our local authority on this front, I veto this action as a first step in what will be a concentrated effort to encourage the State Legislature to reconsider this law,” Leeser said. “In addition, I look forward to working with the City Council to re-examine the penalty associated with curfew violations. A $500 fine for a violation is simply too high. It is overwhelming for many El Pasoans, especially as the cost of living for just about everything continues to go up.”

Leeser says to be proud of the efforts during the budget preparation to pass a no-new revenue budget and not increase taxes for El Pasoans, adding that he will extend those efforts to ensure that an ordinance of that nature is a “positive tool in our toolbox, but a fair one as well.”