The curfew is in accordance with a city ordinance passed by the council in 1992 and later amended in 1997.
“I would like to say that just because we are a small city does not mean that we are immune to these crimes,” Burnette said. “It seems that every time you read a paper or turn on the news there are several stories about violent crimes.”
During a called meeting Aug. 11, 1992, the City Council passed an ordinance providing the mayor authority to proclaim a curfew during certain civil emergencies that may include a riot, unlawful assembly, natural disasters or “an outbreak of criminal behavior which jeopardizes the safety and welfare of the general public.”
The ordinance defines a curfew as “a prohibition against any one or more persons walking, running, loitering, standing or motoring upon any alley, street, highway, public property, or vacant premises within the city, except persons officially designated to duty with reference to a civil emergency.”
According to the ordinance, the mayor may invoke a general curfew that may include specific geographical areas or apply to the city as a whole for a time the mayor deems necessary and is deemed “in the interest of public health, safety and welfare.”
Any person found guilty of violating the curfew is subject to a fine not to exceed $500 and 6 months in jail.
The original curfew in 1992 applied to a citywide curfew for persons under the age of 18. Mayor B.J. Meeks, mayor at the time of the ordinance, announced the curfew for weeknights was 11:30 and midnight on weekends.
In 1997, Mayor Robert Harris issued an executive order setting a curfew at 11 p.m., “seven days a week, citywide, until further notice.”
Burnette said the department wants to be compassionate but enforcement of the curfew is necessary to cut down on trouble spots and to curb violent behavior.
“Our officers will use discretion and not be unreasonable,” Burnette said. Officers will warn individuals of the curfew and allow them some flexibility until the curfew becomes general knowledge.
“The curfew is nondiscriminatory — it applies to all ages and all locations in the city,” Burnette said.
Juveniles violating the curfew will either be carried to their parents or brought to the Police Department to call their parents. Parents will be given a non-traffic citation and they can either pay the ticket or appear in court to contest the ticket.
Burnette said the curfew is just one measure the department will implement. Other measures include increased patrol in certain areas of the city, he said.
“I would like citizens to know that the Childersburg Police Department is trying to take these additional steps to provide a safer area for them and their children to live and grow,” Burnette said.
Regarding investigations of recent crimes, he said, “My agency responds to and investigates these crimes on all levels on a regular basis, from misdemeanor domestic violence and assaults to felony assaults and occasional homicides.
“In the most recent shooting crimes, the Investigation Division has been working diligently on completing the cases and getting the persons responsible off our streets,” Burnette said. “And I commend those officers for the long hours and commitment that they have put into it and I feel confident that they will prevail.”
Contact Mark Ledbetter at email@example.com.