Police propose stricter juvenile curfew policy

Police propose stricter juvenile curfew policy

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A Saturday night fight at Tinseltown in Fayetteville has placed a renewed focus on the need for a stricter juvenile curfew policy. (Photo by Michael Clifton / www.kombatkamera.com)

A Saturday night fight between two teenaged girls in the lobby of Fayette Pavilion’s Tinseltown cinema has some members of the community asking if more can be done to reduce the number of instances in which youth are dropped off without a chaperone and left to their own discretion until they are picked up hours later.
Fayetteville Police Chief Scott Pitts points out that the city has an ordinance on the books already, but he says it is difficult to enforce in certain cases, including what happens on a more regular basis at Fayette County’s largest cinema. He says he is calling on Tinseltown management to set rules that would ban youth under the age of 17 from being dropped off and left unattended at the cinema on Friday and Saturday nights beginning as early as 6.
“After 6 p.m., anyone under 17 would have to be escorted,” Pitts said.
Fayetteville’s ordinance relating to the juvenile curfew says it is unlawful for anyone 17 years or younger to be out and about in the city without supervision from a parent or legal guardian between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., except on Fridays and Saturdays when the hours are midnight to 6 a.m. There are a few exceptions to the rule, including returning home from work and from school functions.
Holding parents accountable to the rules, however, can be tricky, which is why Pitts says he would like to see the cinema set its own policies, much like many cinemas and shopping malls have instituted around the country.
Pitts noted that many parents drop off their teenagers at Tinseltown, and then some of those teenagers roam around Fayette Pavilion. While parents think their children are enjoying a film inside the cinema, some of these youth are actually outside causing trouble.
Pitts says the city would like to see more whole families at the cinema in the evenings and fewer unsupervised youth.
According to Pitts, Saturday night’s fight drew such a crowd of spectators that the 911 call went out as a much more serious incident, and several police and Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the scene even though only two females were actually involved. He said both teen females were arrested.
Pitts said his research has led to evidence that some places implementing stricter youth loitering laws have seen reduced teen trouble and increased sales as more families return to the shopping area.

Danny Harrison

Danny Harrison, a 1992 Fayette High School graduate, began his journalism career with Fayette County News in 1995. After taking several leaves of absence to pursue journalism and Christian ministry opportunities, including a few out of state and overseas, he returned full-time to Fayette County News in August 2014. Harrison earned a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry in 2009 while serving as a missionary journalist in England and Western Europe.