Local leaders: Curfew is ‘OK’ but could be better

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, February 2, 2023

The City of Brookhaven implemented a curfew on New Year’s Eve 2022. Just more than one month later, how well is it working?

The ordinance states that, with certain exceptions, anyone under the age of 18 must not be out in public after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and after midnight Friday and Saturday, until 5:30 a.m. the following morning.

Some local leaders think the curfew is working, but could be better, by adding extra “eyes” around the city, extending curfew hours, or both.

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“It’s going OK,” said Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins. “It’s giving us another tool for stopping these juveniles from their criminal activities. All the bigger cities are running into this. These juveniles are well-armed. The curfew is doing OK for right now, and it can be adjusted in the future as needed. We still need a camera system. It’s a major job every day to keep our town safe.”

Rev. Charles Caston Sr. is the City Alderman for Ward 3, where some of recent violent activity has taken place.

“I haven’t gotten a lot of feedback from that, but I suspect it’s going alright, and if we need to tweak it a little bit, we can,” Caston said. “We just need to make sure all our parents know about the curfew so they can monitor their children more and know their whereabouts.”

Caston said he has not witnessed a lot of what he would call gang activity, and no one in his ward has talked a lot with him about it. But he said he agrees more cameras will be helpful.

“At Bethel Park over here at Fulton Street, we’re looking to put up cameras in that particular area. Chief Collins has assured me that will be done. There have been some shootings over there, at least two,” he said.

Ward 6 Alderman Andre’ Spiller said some of the residents in his ward would like to see the curfew adjusted now.

“They’re saying maybe move it to 10 or even 9 p.m., on weeknights and on the weekends,” he said. “And some of these teens are saying on Facebook that there’s a lot of things they can do before 11 o’clock.”

Brookhaven School District Superintendent Rod Henderson said he thinks it’s still too early to determine if the curfew will help fight school absenteeism.

“I want our parents to hold themselves accountable and the students for being where they should be at a decent time,” Henderson said. “It’s going to take their cooperation to make sure it’s effective. I don’t think it has affected us as yet.”

In September 2022, the Board of Aldermen determined that juveniles have repeatedly congregated at various places across the city, causing general disturbances and “contributing to an excessive number of incidents of drug and alcohol related crimes, thefts, homicides and assaults,” the new ordinance states.

Exceptions to the curfew are if the minor is with his or her parents; under adult supervision with parental permission; involved in a school, church, or organized sporting activity or traveling to or from it; or traveling to or from his or her employment.

The Brookhaven Police Department has the authority to enforce the curfew.