Council discusses curfew

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Selma’s crime task force wants a youth curfew in order to curb crime. Police Chief Robert Green, though, doesn’t believe it’s enforceable.

The Selma City Council’s public safety committee discussed the issue at its Monday meeting. Councilwoman Nancy Sewell, who chaired the meeting in Councilwoman Rita Sims Franklin’s absence, said she wanted to hear from Green about a curfew. &uot;This ordinance has an immense impact on the police department,&uot; Sewell said. &uot;It’s the police department that we’re depending on.&uot;

Mayor James Perkins Jr. created the crime task force at the city’s first town hall meeting on crime in October. The task force returned in December with several recommendations on how to curb crime, including the youth curfew.

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Green, who was present at Monday’s meeting, had his own questions for the council about the curfew’s enforcement. He detailed those questions in a March 2 memorandum. &uot;Where will the juveniles be housed?&uot; and &uot;Will the city entertain the thought of building a juvenile detention facility?&uot; were two questions Green said persisted.

According to Green, police already have a method of handling juvenile problems. Currently, minors are charged with child in need of supervision when found. The truancy law is also enforced when children under 16 are found during school hours, he added.

Hale County has a juvenile detention center; Dallas County has none.

Councilman James Durry said a curfew would penalize the wrong people. &uot;Telling kids to come home at 11 p.m. isn’t going to solve the problem,&uot; Durry said. &uot;The answer is, you need to add officers to the police department.&uot;

The police department has lost three officers to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department in the past two weeks, according to Green. Four years ago his department had 64 officers. Today it has 58.

Barbara Brown, co-chair of the crime task force, said the curfew could be implemented in stages. &uot;Child in need of supervision isn’t working,&uot; Brown said. &uot;The State of Alabama is one of the few states where the judge has the right to fine the parents. If CHINS were being enforced, I think you’d see a difference.&uot;

Brown asked the council to obtain statistics from the police department about the number of youths who commit crimes. &uot;I would like to see some numbers,&uot; Brown said. &uot;I hear what you say about the cost, but you know how I feel about crime.&uot;

Council President George Evans agreed to request the statistics from Green.

In other matters the council:

Heard from Pam Bostick of the American Cancer Society about the city’s anti-smoking ordinance. Bostick said she wanted the council to improve its ordinance to include restaurants and recreational facilities as non-smoking areas.

Gave letters to Perkins and Green requesting them for an update about the chain of command between the mayor and police chief and the working relationship of the two. Evans said he wanted a response by March 18 so the council could discuss it at its March 22 meeting.