CORDOVA, Ala. (WIAT) — Should parents be fined if their teens are roaming around unsupervised late at night?
That’s a question Cordova city leaders may answer if they vote on the issue Tuesday evening.
The mayor and police chief there say there have been a string of complaints about 12-15 year olds causing mischief late at night since summer began.
Cordova Police Chief Nick Smith says that mischief includes breaking into unlocked cars and making noise in people’s yards in the middle of the night. The curfew would allow police to take minors into custody and give citations to their parents when they pick them up.
The potential fines for violating the ordinance could range from $25.00 for a first offense, $50.00 for a second within a 12-month period and up to $500.00 and/or 6 months in the city jail “at hard labor upon the city streets.”
Cordova Police Chief Nick Smith says his department has bent over backwards to try and encourage parents not to allow their children out unsupervised late at night, but so far- he says that message has fallen on deaf ears.
The chief is hoping that an ordinance might give parents enough incentive to take action.
“We’d get complaints, we’d get 3 or 4 complaints a week of citizens calling in about kids being in their yard playing at 1, 2, 3 o’clock in the morning, just being loud really causing just a nuisance in the neighborhoods,” said Smith. “We don’t want someone to mistake them as a burglar and come out with a gun or you know shoot at them or do something to that nature and I think that’s something that a lot of parents don’t think about.”
Cordova Mayor Doug Gilbert says there are exceptions for teens who are working or at school or church events.
He says minors wouldn’t get trouble just for stopping at a gas station to fill up on the way home, but stopping and hanging out for half an hour might land them and their parents a trip to the police department.
“We’ve had a good deal of citizen complaints here recently. We’ve got a group of minors we’ve had a couple of issues with them breaking into some cars , taking some things, negligible as far as value was concerned, but still sort of an invasion of our public, ” said Gilbert.
“In the beginning it’s kind of designed as a warning phase, but towards the end it’s really to a point to where we need you to manage your children and that’s what we’re shooting for.”
Cordova resident Eric Williams says he’s had to deal with more than his share of issues caused by unsupervised minors.
“Oh yeah, one of them shot me with a bb gun in the finger. They’ve, they’ve throwed stuff at our cars. They’ve shot one of my cars with a bb gun on the window it got a little crack in it. I mean they, they’ve been some heathens,” said Williams.
He thinks a curfew is a great idea.
“It could really work I believe here in Cordova. Because I mean these children, you know they, they’re really bad,” said Williams.
Twenty-one year old Cordova resident Laci Poole is on the other side of the debate. She thinks a curfew would be unfair to all the kids in Cordova who aren’t out causing trouble.
“That’s ridiculous. I mean we have nothing else to do so I mean at least we’re not like going out and doing drugs or just going to be like sitting there talking. I used to hang out in Wal-Mart parking lot when I was 16. It doesn’t hurt,” said Poole.
Mayor Gilbert says the curfew ordinance was expected to come up for a vote at the Tuesday Cordova City Council meeting. If it passes the council is supposed to reevaluate the curfew after 90 days to determine if it is still necessary.
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