New Juvenile Judge Pledges Action On Curfew, Truancy Problems

Monday, June 24, 2013
Rob Philyaw
Rob Philyaw

The new judge in Juvenile Court on Monday said little to nothing is currently being done on Chattanooga youth curfews or truancy, but he aims to spark some action.

He said curfew enforcement "is non-existant," and he said the situation is about the same on dealing with truancy.

  Rob Philyaw told members of the Pachyderm Club that Chattanooga has a poor curfew law and it is not enforced. He said after there were issues about youths roaming Coolidge Park at late hours, a special area was set up in North Chattanooga to take those caught for curfew violations. He said the center closed because no one was ever brought there.

Judge Philyaw said virtually nothing is being done here about dealing with the truancy issue, except for the filing of some cases in May - when school is about over. He said the number of truancy cases brought to the court last year from Howard High School was zero.

He said, "This is not about getting little Johnny to bed on time. It's about the safety of these kids and the safety of the community."

Judge Philyaw said he found that the current city curfew ordinance was so inadequate that he took part in an effort to rewrite it. He said it currently is one paragraph and the proposed version is a page and a half. He said he has presented the draft to Mayor Andy Berke.

The speaker said the current curfew ordinance "was lacking a lot," and the rewrite "is a good draft for the mayor and City Council to consider." 

He said he has identified a section of the Juvenile Court site on East Third Street where curfew violators could possibly be taken.

He said when underage kids are out in groups in the early hours of the morning they are often in danger themselves or may be a threat to endanger others.

The judge, who replaced Suzanne Bailey when she retired, said older Chattanooga gang members with felony records often utilize very young kids to wield weapons for them. He said they do not want to be caught themselves with the guns.

He said the court is taking several initiatives to deal with curfew and truancy issues and is being aided by prosecutor Boyd Patterson, the former gang task force leader who has been assigned by District Attorney Bill Cox mainly to Juvenile Court.

On whether action can be taken against parents of curfew violators and truants, he said options are limited, but they may be found in contempt of court.

He said he understands why officers who have to deal with very serious crimes are reluctant to spend time on curfew violations, but he indicated he will seek more help from the police. He also said he plans to meet with School Supt. Rick Smith on dealing with the truancy problem.

Judge Philyaw said the Juvenile Detention Center on Third Street is designed to hold 25 youthful offenders, but had 34 last Thursday. He said those included 13 who had guns, two charged with carjacking, three accused of aggravated robbery and three (ages 12, 13 and 16) charged with attempted first-degree murder.

He said they may be commiting adult crimes, "but I see kids when I look in their faces."  




    


Cross Plains Police Officer Arrested On Charges Of Sexual Battery By Authority Figure

An investigation by   special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of a Robertson County School Resource Officer on charges of sexual battery by an authority figure.                                         At the request of 19 ... (click for more)

Shelby County Man Charged In Tipton County Double Homicide

An investigation by   special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and detectives with the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office has resulted in the arrest of a second individual in connection with a double homicide in July. At the request of 25 th  District Attorney General Mike Dunavant, TBI special agents joined the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office in investigating ... (click for more)

Tennessee River Gorge Trust Trail Warriors Make You Want To Take A Hike

Trail warriors of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust make you want to take a hike.  The Tennessee River Gorge Trust staff and volunteers make a huge difference in the Chattanooga community and have been making the outdoor areas around the River Gorge clean and protected for more than 30 years.  They deserve to be recognized and praised for all of the hard work they have ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why Our Schools Stink

Cheryl Roddy has spent her lifetime, for the biggest part, as a teacher for the Hamilton County Department of Education and, more specifically, at East Ridge High School. She has loved teaching there for nearly 40 years and is hardly “average;” she has her master's degree in education, was twice East Ridge’s teacher of the year, was the first teacher at East Ridge to reach the first ... (click for more)

Wilson, Hurricanes Pull Out 58-55 Win Against Baylor

From deep in the left corner, East Hamilton guard Vandrele Wilson, a 5-foot-7 junior, let fly with a 3-point shot, came back to the ground and stood concrete-still while watching the basketball hit nothing but net. As soon as the ball left his hand, Wilson was sure it was golden. The clutch 3-pointer gave East Hamilton a 56-55 lead over Baylor with 15 seconds remaining ... (click for more)

Prolific Prep Hammers Hamilton Heights 72-62

Gary Trent Jr. ripped Hamilton Heights for a game-high 36 points on Friday night and helped Prolific Prep Academy (Windsor, Calif.) defeat the Hawks 72-62 in the Marshal County (Ky.) Hoopfest. Trent, who played all 32 minutes, hit 14 of 28 shots, including 3 of 9 3-point tries. He scored 19 in the first half and had 11 each in the second and third periods. Abu Kigab scored ... (click for more)