City adopts curfew for teens

Published 7:54 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Batesville aldermen this week adopted a curfew for minors that had been discussed and debated for two weeks.

The final reading of the ordinance prohibits unaccompanied persons under the age of 18 from being in public inside the city limits from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and from midnight to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Aldermen were intent on making 11 p.m. the cutoff time for all seven days of the week, but Alderman Teddy Morrow asked other board members to extend the time by 60 minutes. Morrow said many responsible teenagers are on dates and with friends past 11 p.m. on weekends and shouldn’t be punished by an ordinance the board intends for youth responsible for break-ins and other mischief.

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Some discussion was held over the effective age of the curfew, with some suggesting the ordinance should apply to those 17 and younger. In the end, aldermen agreed that any minor should fall under the statute.

The curfew would not affect any minor who is coming or going to a school event, a church event, a political rally, or a reasonable activity when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Also in the ordinance are penalties starting with a $250 fine for first offense, and $500 for subsequent infractions for an offending minor’s violation of the curfew. Also, Mitchell said, the ordinance does include provisions for jail time for the parents or guardians, depending on the decisions of judges who hear the cases.

The curfew went into effect immediately upon the vote by aldermen on Tuesday and will remain in effect until further notice. Its passage was prompted by the frustrations of police officers who had no way of removing juveniles from walking neighborhood streets late at night.

Over the past year city residents have been upset at times with police because of an increased amount of burglaries and car break-ins, especially by youth. Police constantly field calls and complaints from citizens who report young people walking neighborhoods, or riding around town, at late hours.

Without a curfew police were unable to force the teens to go home and satisfy the suspicions of concerned citizens.

Chief of Police Kerry Pittman said the ordinance will be enforced fairly, and his officers will not be actively searching for teenagers to issue tickets. He told aldermen the ordinance is another tool his department can utilize to curb teen crime in the city.