City commissioners voted to amend a citywide curfew for minors, giving law enforcement more latitude on when to give a warning and when to make an arrest.
Commissioners had a lengthy discussion at a recent city retreat regarding the city-wide curfew that applies to unaccompanied minors under the age of 17 from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The commission unanimously approved the change in its Monday meeting.
The ordinance prohibits anyone under the age of 17 from being on the streets unsupervised between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., with some exemptions. The primary change involves changing the word “shall” to “may.”
That change essentially gives police the option of issuing a warning on first offense or taking stronger action.
Previously, the ordinance mandated that police give a warning the first time a teen or minor violates the curfew. The amendment was the result of a reported increase in juvenile violence and crime, and its stated purpose is to increase parental responsibility for supervision.
Exceptions to the curfew would still apply. Minors can be out if accompanied by an adult or on an emergency errand for an adult. They also may be returning home from a school or church activity, job or out of state visit.
Also during the meeting, community activist Charles Love addressed commissioners about North Rome.
“You have a committee on blight — you need to come on Duke Street, you need to come on Copeland Street,” Love said. Some neighborhoods receive more attention than others, he told commissioners.
“It’s frustrating to go unnoticed when things are going on,” Love said.
Some people come to this community and can’t find adequate housing, he said, and asked that something should be done. Certain right of ways aren’t mowed, Love said, and some neighborhoods aren’t getting the attention that others are. He asked that those practices be changed and all communities get the same amount of attention.
“That’s Government 101,” Love said, adding that homeowners feel isolated from government services in areas like North Rome and South Rome.
Mayor Bill Collins said they’d discussed the issue of code enforcement earlier in caucus.
“The same thing that happens on South Hughes Street, as far as blight, may not happen on the same street in Old East Rome,” Collins said, quoting Commissioner Craig McDaniel from that earlier discussion and adding that the issues should be addressed wherever they occurred.
The building inspection chief, James Martin, spoke to commissioners in caucus about what the department is doing to address community concerns as well as plans to add another position to the department.
“You will begin to see a big difference,” Collins.