Under 18 in Simmesport? Get off the streets at night
Children under the age of 18 must be off the streets of Simmesport by 7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and by 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, under a new ordinance adopted by the Town Council at a special meeting on April 16.
The curfew ordinance was adopted in response to numerous complaints of youth walking the street at night and in the early morning hours.
Town officials held a community meeting for the public on April 22 in Riverside Elementary’s gym to further explain the details of the ordinance and to clear up some misconceptions.
Under the new ordinance, minors 17 and under are not to be on the town streets before 6 a.m. on any day.
During the curfew period, children cannot be “idle, wander, stroll or play in any public place, either on foot or to cruise about without a set destination in any vehicle, in, about or upon any place in the town” unless accompanied by a parent/guardian, on an “emergency errand” or activity directed by the parent/guardian or when the “presence of such minor is connected with or required by some legitimate employment, trade, profession or occupation.”
The ordinance also makes it illegal for a business or other public place to “knowingly permit or suffer the presence of minors 17-years of age and under” during the time periods covered by the curfew.
Parents/guardians would also be subject to penalties under the ordinance to “permit, or by inefficient control to allow” a minor in their custody to violate the ordinance unless they have filed a missing person notification with the police department.
Other exceptions to the law include youth attending special functions of a church, school, club or organization that requires the minor to be out later than the curfew time of 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. The organization must register in advance with the police chief or his designee that minors will be out past the curfew to attend the event. Youth attending the event must be home within 30 minutes after the event ends.
If a child is found in violation of the ordinance, the police officer will instruct him of the curfew requirement and direct him to go home. The incident will be reported to the police chief, who will notify the parents/guardian of the minor.
If the minor refuses to obey the officer’s instructions, if he refuses to provide his name and address or if he has previously violated the curfew ordinance, he/she will be taken to the police department.
The parents/guardian will be notified to come to the station and take the juvenile home. If the parents/guardian cannot be located or fails to come to take charge of the child, the minor will be released to juvenile authorities.
Juveniles and their parents/guardians will be subject to fines established under state law.
Mayor Leslie Draper III said the town had previously adopted an ordinance based on state law, “but it wasn’t clear and it was not specifically designed for Simmesport.”
The new ordinance is clearer and was written to address specific concerns citizens had.
“We decided to adopt a curfew ordinance because there had been a large number of young people walking the streets at night with no apparently clear destination in mind,” Draper said.
“It was beginning to cause problems,” the mayor continued. “Some youth were standing in the street, intimidating drivers while others were creating pedestrian walkways where none existed.”
He said enforcing the curfew will go a long way to ensure children 17 and under are home during the nighttime and early morning hours.