Montgomery County Commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday adopting a juvenile curfew, restricting the hours those under 17 years of age can be out and about in unincorporated areas of the county. The resolution states the restriction is “for the protection of minors from each other and from other persons, for the enforcement of parental control over the responsibility for children, for the protection of the general public, and for the reduction of juvenile violence and criminal activity.”
The curfew begins at 12:01 a.m. and ends at 6 a.m., seven days per week.
Pct. 3 Commissioner James Noack said he had spoken with several members of law enforcement and he felt it was the parents’ responsibility to keep up with their children and he didn’t think the resolution was necessary. Noack further expressed his concern that young people who were out because of hunting and fishing, jobs, or participation in sporting events or other legal and parent approved activities might be stopped and questioned unnecessarily.
Pct. 1 Commissioner Mike Meador then asked Pct. 1 Constable Philip Cash to weigh in on the issue. He stepped up to the podium and pointed out the curfew had been in effect since the mid-1990’s when over 70 percent of county voters approved it. Since that time, commissioners voted to renew it every few years. Cash said he felt it benefited everyone to have the curfew, because it gave officers the right to find out why kids were out on the streets in the middle of the night, and to contact their parents to pick them up if necessary. In some cases, Cash said police found stolen items, drugs or other contraband on the juveniles. They’ve also called parents who were shocked to learn their child was out, having thought the juveniles were spending the night with a friend and assumed they were in the safety of their friends’ home. Cash said there were a lot of problems with juvenile crime overnight, particularly during the summer, including trespassing and criminal mischief. He said it would be up to the discretion of the officer as to how far they would go with enforcement. Pct. 5 Captain Billy Masden also stepped forward and said that no one in his agency would cite a juvenile in the scenarios raised by Commissioner Noack.
County Attorney JD Lambright said he hadn’t seen any complaints regarding enforcement of the curfew, and he agreed that it provided law enforcement with probable cause to stop and make sure the juveniles were not doing anything wrong and were safe. Commissioner Meador then pointed out that it could potentially save a child’s life because a 12 or 13-year-old, for example, can get into many dangerous situations by being unsupervised on the streets in the middle of the night.
In the end, the only opposing vote was cast by Commissioner Noack, so the curfew remains in place.
Scroll down to read the details, including exceptions to the law.