Juvenile Court Judge wants a stricter city-wide curfew for minors
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
A Juvenile Court Judge says Chattanooga's curfew law isn't working, and he has a plan to keep unruly teens off the streets after dark.
Channel 3 learned about the plan after more than a dozen teens were arrested over two weekends for disorderly conduct. We wanted to know if the judge's plan is being considered.
The current curfew ordinance requires kids under 16 to be supervised after 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on the weekends. they are rules that some say can't be enforced.
"It's really curfew violations that's happening and it just wasn't part of the law, so we though, let's make it part," said Juvenile Court Director Rachel Brock.
Juveniles who are out past the city curfew are not being punished. The Juvenile Court Director Rachel Brock says police can cite minors and send them to court, but that rarely happens.
"Since I've been here I haven't seen one," Brock said.
Brock teamed up with Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw and Assistant District Attorney Boyd Patterson to draft a curfew law that police can enforce.
The draft requires anyone under age 18 (instead of 16) to be supervised after 11 p.m. during the week, and midnight on weekends.
It also includes a daytime curfew from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday when teens should be in school.
And it gives judges the option to fine parents or mandate community service if the rules are broken.
"You start assigning work hours to the parents, who simply don't care, or you start hitting them in the wallet with fines," said Juvenile Court Administrator Sam Mairs, "There all of a sudden becomes some motivation to keep "Little Johnny" at home."
Juvenile Court Administrator Sam Mairs says the city council would have to approve changes to the law.
"It is seriously worthy of being considered by the city in my opinion," Mairs said.
City Councilman Moses Freeman says he's open to discussing a new ordinance -- but even with the changes believes a city curfew would be hard to enforce.
"Anytime you have a curfew there has to be some enforcement to go along with it," Freeman said, "I'm not sure of the capability of the city to add that on as an additional responsibility."
Police Chief Fred Fletcher says he is in favor of the drafted ordinance and is working with Judge Philyaw to take it to City Council. As of now, there is no plan for the council to discuss the proposal.
Chattanooga Police say there are exceptions to the curfew ordinance, such as:
• Minors accompanied by a parent or guardian • Minors traveling to or from work • Minors attending official school or religious events • Minors running errands under an adult's instruction • Emergencies