New curfew suggested for kids in the city

A city councilman and neighborhood watch group leader has asked the city police chief to change the curfew for juveniles as a means of controlling youth crime.

Councilman Joel Henderson, a pastor and chairman of the council public safety committee, had approached Chief David J. Young about changing the hours that minors — those 17 and under — can be out in the city.

“The councilman came to me,” Young said in a brief interview this week after the committee discussed the matter.

Currently, the juvenile curfew hours are 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Henderson discussed with the chief whether 10 p.m. would be more appropriate and give time for police to assess situations, give warnings or get juveniles who are breaking the law to their respective parents or guardians.

Henderson’s request is on the heels of a year in which juveniles were accused of attacking adults walking in Newberry and seen in large groups riding bicycles and causing mayhem and vandalism throughout the city, according to police reports published in the Sun-Gazette.

Young provided the committee with juvenile incident statistics. During 2017, police responded to 22 acts involving juvenile crimes and incidents.

In all, the city police have responded to 124 juvenile crimes reported between 2014 and 2017, according to the figures.

Most of the incidents occurred in 2015. That year, police investigated 38 complaints, according to the statistics.

Responding to the 22 incidents last year, police determined that juveniles were to blame. Young replied, “We can do better than 22.”

Should the ordinance be amended, it first will need to be recommended by the committee.

When asked about the 10 p.m. possibility for the start of a curfew, Young said it is typically dark by 9:30 p.m., and that is on the longest day of the year in June.

The earlier hour also would give officers a chance to assess situations on the street and permit them to give fair warning to juveniles that the curfew is in effect, Young said.

Officers will assess each situation and use discretion if the youth has a second-shift job or is heading home from seeing a movie or performance.

Police will be able to determine if the youths have a legitimate excuse for being on city streets past curfew, Young said.