Public safety

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2006

City Council, SPD to discuss enacting curfew

By Victor Inge

The Selma Times-Journal

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Some of the men and women in blue wanted to go before the Selma City Council on Monday to express concerns to the Public Safety Committee, but members of the council are beating them to it.

The Council’s Public Safety Committee, consisting of Chairman Reid Cain, President Pro Tem Jean Martin and Councilman Cecil Williamson, also plans Monday to bring up the possibilities of enacting a curfew. And, it was remarks published by Cain and Williamson that raised the ire of local drug task force members.

Council President George Evans said council members heard concerns from police officers who feel slighted by comments made by Cain and Williamson, through letters to the editor published in The Selma Times-Journal. The officers said the letters insinuated the Selma Police Department couldn’t or wouldn’t handle the drug problem in the St. Phillips Street area, and other agencies had to step in.

“This isn’t true,” Evans said. “The police department and the officers did their jobs. Several of us (council members) were approached by citizens living in that ward to do something about the drug situation. And when we went to police they assured us they were working on it. I know for a fact they were working on it.”

Evans said the officers were trying to make the cases stick, by making multiple arrests and carefully documenting the alleged players.

“The officers were trying to make sure that when they made a bust, they’re going to prison,” Evans said.

Council members may be asked to consider a curfew for youths in the wake of recent juvenile delinquency. A dozen juveniles, including two females, and two adults, have been arrested or sought in connection with a string of burglaries.

Authorities said the juveniles involved ages ranged from 11 to 17, and many of them were related. The 11-year-old was used to enter residences through windows. One of the 15-year-olds is charged with the theft of a gun.

The council is scheduled to meet on Monday at 5 p.m. and will hear the Public Safety Committee’s proposal.

The curfew proposes all youths must be off the streets from 11 a.m. to 6 a.m. It also provides for citations to be issued for violators, city officials said. The proposed curfew has been reviewed by City Attorney Jimmy Nunn, who Cain said has no problems with its legality.

Williamson said they have been discussing a curfew “for eight or nine months.” The Public Safety committee also had other concerns about the facility housing the police department, which has leaks in the roof, ceiling damage, and the elevator out of service. Most of the damage is from previous hurricanes, which city officials said should have been handled through insurance claims.