Burnette said the curfew is not designed to hinder movement. Individuals going to a store, going to eat, going to work or traveling through Childersburg will not be stopped. “We’re not going to be unreasonable,” he said.
The ordinance calling for a curfew was first enacted in 1992 under Mayor B.J. Meeks’ administration and then modified in 1997 by then Mayor Robert Harris, who set a curfew at 11 p.m., “seven days a week, citywide, until further notice.”
Meeks said the original ordinance was passed at the recommendation of the Alabama League of Municipalities. The League, Meeks said, recommended communities have an ordinance in place so if an emergency such as a tornado or fire took place, a curfew could be declared.
Meeks said he recalled one incident in which police took a teenage girl in custody and called her mother. Meeks said the mother insisted it wasn’t her daughter. He said the police insisted it was her daughter and they had her at the station with a bottle of wine and if she didn’t come get her daughter they were taking her to juvenile detention.
The mother checked her daughter’s bedroom and found she was missing, Meeks said. “Within minutes the mother was down at the station.”
Meeks said when the police would set up road blocks they would find people not from Childersburg just riding around town. In a June 14 shooting in Sadie Lee Court, neither the shooter nor the victims were from Childersburg.
Meeks said he has had some residents ask him questions about the curfew. He said he encouraged them to attend the next council meeting to discuss the issue.
“When we first enacted the ordinance we had a large crowd come out to the council meeting,” Meeks said. “After we explained things to them they were all right with it.”
“It gives the Police Department a lot better tool to work with,” he said.
“I applaud Childersburg for the idea,” Talladega County resident John Howard said.
Although not a Childersburg resident, Howard said it is good that the city is taking control of the community. “Childersburg sets a good example for other communities,” he said. “You don’t have to worry if you’re not breaking the law.”
Howard said he used to get his hair cut in Childersburg, but since the shooting at the barber shop in May he hasn’t been back.
Burnette said some residents said they see no problem with the curfew. “They take care of their own children and know where they are.”
A resident who wished to remain anonymous said, “I’m OK with it. I’ll be at home anyway.”
Councilman Billy Lester said, “This is one thing I’ve not received any calls about.”
Not all local residents agree with the curfew.
Resident Alex Puckett posted an online petition against the curfew. According to the petition, Puckett describes it as “unnecessary and violates citizens rights.”
“I believe martial law is an unnecessary step in the fight against violent crime in this city,” the petition states.
Generally, martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities upon a region during an emergency.
The Childersburg ordinance is local and prohibits an individual or individuals from walking, running, loitering, etc., on public property for specific times of day and days of the week and can be declared “in the interest of public health, safety and welfare.”
Burnette said the curfew is a “prevention tool” to aid the department to prevent crime. “We have also started extra patrols,” Burnette said.
Contact Mark Ledbetter at email@example.com.