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Local governments should enact curfews
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Editor, For lack of a better opening statement, “The National Crime Prevention Counsel and the Hinesville Police Department Crime Prevention Unit, state that gang members usually range in age from 8 to 22, with most falling into the 14 to 17 years of age group.”
Juvenile crime is up 71 percent, middle school suspensions are running as high as 36 percent, gang activity is on the rise, and juveniles are roaming the streets between midnight and 5 a.m. They are slashing tires, breaking into homes and stealing cars, not to mention vandalizing homes and property.
Over a year ago I researched the pros and cons of implementing a curfew law for over four months and presented it to our leaders. They listened politely and took no action. It would appear from current events that a teen curfew is necessary to protect our youth and deceaste gang activity.
During the NAACP sponsored “meet the candidates,” all of the candidates stated they would welcome a teen curfew ordinance, and none more enthusiastically than Sheriff Don Martin who stated, “I would welcome a curfew law, it would be a great tool.” Only one candidate came out and said he would not support a curfew law, as it would be a burden on the police officers. Strange, every police officer and the sheriff and one police chief, I have spoken with see it differently.
Survey results/statistics that came out of a 1997 (updated in 2001) Conference of Mayors revealed the following: 70 percent of those surveyed had a nighttime curfew, 26 percent had a daytime curfew, 90 percent said that enforcing a curfew is a good use of a police officer’s time, cities with a daytime curfew reported it cut down on truancy, 88 percent said that curfew enforcement helps to make streets safer for residents, and may favorite: 83 percent of the cities said that a curfew helps to curb gang violence.
The report may be viewed at:
All of this begs the question, why doesn’t Liberty County have a curfew law?
I mentioned I spent months researching the applicability of a curfew for Liberty County and so I did. E-mail, man on the street interviews, setting up a table in a shopping mall, and going door-to-door conducted the sample survey. Close to 450 surveys were collected.
The complete results are far too long for inclusion here, but briefly: 92 percent were in favor of a curfew, 91 percent favor a 10 p.m. or earlier time for 16- and 17-year-olds on school nights, 83 percent favor a 11 p.m. or earlier time for 16- and 17-year-olds on non-school nights. 74 percent favor a 9 p.m. or earlier time for those 15 years and under on a school night, 74 percent favor a 10 p.m. or earlier time for those 15 years and under on non-school nights.
We already have curfews in one form or another. DFAS, no child under the age of 12 may be left alone for any period of time. A child 12 years of age may be left alone in the home for no more that two hours. (This same 12 year old can walk the streets around midnight). Anyone with a class “D” drivers license cannot operate any vehicle on any roadway in Georgia between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. Anyone under the age of 18 who is loitering on any street, business, or public area between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. is guilty of delinquency.
This law is used as a state curfew by many counties and cities and all Liberty County would be doing is expanding the hours of an already state law. As a side note, during my research I spoke with Trish McCann, Georgia Applicable Laws with Appellate and Juvenile Advocacy Attorney, GPDSC Atlanta, who expressed an interest in a Georgia-wide curfew.
Curfews are a positive action not a negative one. They would have no effect on normal families and normal juveniles and their activities.  They would however identify those juveniles and families that may be having troubles and could use assistance or guidance.
Take for example a deployed soldiers family. When they deploy the spouse may experience difficulty controlling the children and may not want to admit there is a problem or not know where to turn for help. This would be a means to identify the problem and perhaps get the family some help. Many juveniles are sneaking out after their parents go to bed and sneaking back in before they wake up. This would also help the family become aware of this behavior. What better tool to identify gang members and get them the help they need. Finally, a curfew would definitely impact the gang activities as is documented above statistics from the mayors.
This is too long with too many statistics, and I haven’t even addressed the implementation, enforcement suggestions or exceptions. If anyone wants more of the results or additional information e-mail,
Until someone gives me a better solution to the juvenile/Gang problem, this is the only game in town and the only hand on the table.

Terry Doyle
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