Why are kids roaming late at night? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Why are kids roaming late at night?

Comm. Christopher Pike Comm. Christopher Pike

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – An Albany city commissioner says children shouldn't be allowed to roam the streets all hours of the night. Christopher Pike wants to review the city's curfew ordinance for minors and put more teeth in it. He thinks tougher rules and stricter enforcement could reduce crime.

Last Thursday night was busy for Albany police. There were two shootings and an armed robbery within just a couple of hours. Commissioner Pike was in the area not long before one of those shootings occurred and saw lots of kids standing in the streets, somewhere they had no business being at that time of night.

If you are under 18, you aren't supposed to be out in the streets past 11PM during the week. Christopher Pike says teens really don't have any business being out even that late.

"They're not doing anything but hanging out and causing mischief and mayhem so we need to kind of put an ordinance in place with some teeth."

Pike wants the commission to consider revising the curfew ordinance, changing it to 10PM. He says most businesses are off-limits to kids at that time of night anyway, and a back alley is no place for a child to hang out. 

"The ones that are hanging out late are, by far, the ones causing the most of the problems."

Parents are given a warning the first time their child breaks curfew. Pike says that isn't necessary.  "What I want to do is give them a citation the first time. I think it's ridiculous that parents make the argument that they don't know where their children are. That's your job as a parent, to keep tabs of your children."

But not all parents do. And police can't spend all night rounding up curfew violators. APD Chief John Proctor says while those kids are picked up, they aren't top priority. "We're more apt to go deal with the rapes, robberies and those kind of things as opposed to curfew violations."

Though he knows those breaking curfew are often breaking other laws. The problem is, once they're picked up, they are rarely held for long and go right back to the same habits. "It is disheartening, to say the least, that we interact with some of the same people over and over and over," said the chief.

Pike says if parents are held responsible for the actions of their children, that may stop. "We need to make parents accountable for making sure their children aren't out causing crime and causing harm to other people." Rather at home where they belong."

Pike also wants the commission to see if it's possible to cite businesses who cater to teenagers after curfew.  Chief John Proctor says burglaries continue to take place throughout the city, many of them committed by juveniles.

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