Council made their decision and voted down the proposed city curfew ordinance and that is their right. No worries and we still have a state curfew which the Valdosta Police Department will enforce while at the same time work with other organizations like LODAC and Never Too Late, to help these juveniles and parents/guardians if they need it and are receptive to help.
But before I close out this post, I want to correct one thing I did make a mistake on. The other day I wasn’t happy with a news headline from our local newspaper and initially compared the Valdosta Daily Times to national news media. That was unfair and unwarranted. For that I apologize. Our newspaper simply reported the facts.
The Facts about the Proposed City Of Valdosta Curfew and Parental Responsibility Ordinance:
1. It is clear based on our research that many curfews implemented in our country have not worked but we have provided at least one success story from a large city in California. As I stated at all public forums, we have analyzed why we think other curfews have not worked; mainly because there is no intervention for the parent/guardian and child on the front end to avoid sending the parent/guardian/child to court. Our program has several options where we can refer them to a non-law enforcement services to get them help, if needed. After that offer and only when there is no legitimate excuse for the parent/guardian who allowed their child to roam our streets from midnight to 5:00 am, then and only then will they be sent to court.
2. The fact is this proposed curfew has exemptions to understand that in some cases, a juvenile may need to be out at night and as a result, no enforcement action will be taken. This has been advertised in the news media, social media, and at public forums.
3. There have been citizens at our forum who oppose this curfew but not one, not a single person, has provided a legitimate option to help the parents/guardians to keep their juveniles at home in the middle of the night.That means the suggestion is we do nothing and allow this "madness" to continue.
4. At the public hearings and through our own research, we have stated that one problem that aggravated the issues of juvenile crime is the Juvenile Reform Act passed by Governor Nathan Deal and our state representatives several years ago. Now the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), in their own words, tell us there is no more "teeth" in juvenile laws when they reach the court level. This translates to no fear of our state juvenile system by these juvenile offenders. This now leaves cities and counties responsible for dealing with these issues on our streets.
5. Last, as I have stated in these forums, in emails, and during one-on-one conversations, the City Manager and I have recommended a common-sense law and the final say-so is up to Mayor/Council who represent you all. In saying all this, we have done our job and we can say "we tried". If this ordinance does not pass and that is the right of the mayor/council, I totally understand and will always respect their decision. But the next time a child is shot and killed while being out in the middle of the night, ask yourselves this: "who thinks it is a good idea for a child under the age of 17 to roam our streets from midnight to 5:00 am and why did the parent/guardian allow this?" This is not a race issue, this is not a culture issue, it is not the responsibility of law enforcement to raise children and supervise them at night; this is a parent/guardian issue; period.
Chief of Police