Roy Exum: Curfew Plan Well Underway

Thursday, August 15, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When I wrote about the wonderful daytime curfew laws in Mobile, Ala., on Tuesday, I was unaware of two timely topics. I didn’t know that around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday a pregnant 16-year-old had been shot on East 25th Street in Chattanooga. I also didn’t know that Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Rob Philyaw has been working tirelessly on a similar curfew plan in the 109 days he has served on the bench.

Judge Philyaw and his court director, Rachel Brock, have already drafted a proposal in hopes of having both a day and night curfew installed by our city’s leaders that would protect any minor under the age of 18. The proposed curfew hours would be from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on school days and from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. Monday through Thursday. On Fridays and Saturdays the night curfew would begin at 11:59 p.m.

“Since the first day I took office I have been telling everybody who would listen that we have to get our kids off the streets when they are not supposed to be out. I see too many horror stories of the effects of roaming kids in Chattanooga,” Judge Philyaw wrote in an email. “I have spent a lot of brain-trust power completely reviewing the way curfew and truancy issues are handled in Hamilton County.”

So what the judge and his staff have done is studied curfew programs all across the South to come up with the best parts of each program that they will present to City Hall in the near future. “This is a wonderful way to keep kids out of trouble,” he said in a telephone conversation later on Wednesday.

“The biggest hurdle is where we are going to take these minors until a parent or guardian comes to pick them up. It didn’t take me long to figure out we have a great facility in the Juvenile Court building. We don’t want to put these kids in jail. That’s not what this is about. We want to keep them safe.”

Judge Philyaw recently met with a group of police officers and, when he asked what they do when they see two 12-year-olds on the street at 2 a.m., he wasn’t surprised when the candid reply was, “We look the other way. “I see the problem,” the judge said, “You can’t put them in jail and the police certainly don’t have access to a holding area.”

So the proposal will include staffing the Juvenile Court building. “Actually you have three main parts – the police, the parents, and where to keep a child until they can be picked up by their family. The police see what is happening,” the judge said, “and I believe they are eager to keep minors out of trouble.”

Right now there is a case in Juvenile Court where three kids, all under the age of 16, have been charged with attempted first-degree murder. Another case involves two 13-year-olds who – on orders from a gang - robbed a couple at gunpoint and then stole their victims’ car. “A curfew might stop this from happening,” he said.

“I am more serious about this issue – getting kids off the streets – than anything else I am doing. Curfews are working in places like Jackson, Tn., Nashville and Mobile. The state of Tennessee has a Compulsory Attendance Law which is sometimes hard to enforce. A curfew violation is much easier and a citation to appear in Juvenile Court would be issued to the juvenile and/or the parent.

“What we have learned is once a city or town adopts the ordinance, it doesn’t take very long before adults and children alike realize we mean business. When a parent is fined, they’ll pay more attention to what their children are doing and where they are,” the judge reasoned.

“Mayor (Andy) Berke is working hard to make public safety a priority. I feel the curfews will be a great benefit and will make a noticeable difference in the amount of kids we see in the courtroom. Our schools are the safest place for children and, when they learn they better not get caught, I think our attendance numbers could easily improve. If the 16-year-old shooting victim had been in school this week, she wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”

Judge Philyaw, who was selected by the County Commission when Suzanne Bailey retired from the bench, said “nothing was broken” when he took the bench. “Suzanne did a tremendous job so now we can look at ways to get better because there is nothing that needs to be fixed. A curfew plan was already high on the list and (school superintendent) Rick Smith and I already have a meeting set up to talk about truancy.”

Is this great news in a city where a 16-year-old got shot on Tuesday or what?

royexum@aol.com


The President Isn't In Charge Of America's Future

Protesters -  Donald is not, and Hillary would not have been, in charge of America's future.  Why worry when the God of the universe is in control.   We Americans need to read and heed 2 Chronicles 7:14.  I'll be first in line.  Judy Morgan Tyner/East Brainerd (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jumoke’s Thuggery Ends

Jumoke Johnson, the most notorious criminal in Chattanooga’s recent history, was killed by a rain of bullets in the 2100 block of East 12 th Street at little after 8 o’clock Friday night and for the many of us who have kept up with the 23-year-old, you wonder how he ever lasted this long. He was aptly proclaimed as the “most dangerous man” to ever have been sentenced in Chattanooga’s ... (click for more)

Couple Break Into East Ridge Home; Tie Wrists Of 73-Year-Old Man

East Ridge Police are looking for a couple who broke into the home of an elderly East Ridge man and tied his wrists while ransacking his home on Sunday morning. East Ridge Police responded to an address on Moseley Circle on a report of a home invasion at  10 a.m.   A white male and white female knocked on the door, then forced their way into the home. The man ... (click for more)

Alabama Man Faces Murder Charge In Shooting Death At Bradley County Landfill

An investigation by  s pecial agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of an Alabama man in a shooting death that occurred last fall at the Bradley County landfill.   At the request of 10 th  District Attorney General Steve Crump, last Sept. 8 TBI special agents began investigating a shooting death that occurred that ... (click for more)

Tullahoma Nips East Hamilton For Central Mat Title

The annual Central Invitational wrestling tournament was cancelled two weeks ago by the threat of inclement weather, but they were able to get it in on Saturday and it was a battle to the wire for the team championship. Luke Champion was the individual winner at 285 pounds and it was his victory that lifted the Tullahoma Wildcats to the team title as they finished the day-long ... (click for more)

Father Ryan Rallies To Beat Soddy Daisy

The Soddy Daisy Trojans may have been embarrassed over a lopsided whipping they took at the hands of the Bradley Bears Thursday night in Cleveland, but they came out with fire in their eyes Friday night in a dual meet with Father Ryan. The host Trojans had a seemingly-comfortable 32-22 lead with three matches remaining, but the Purple Irish won all three -- including two with ... (click for more)