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


Trump Needs To Come Run Hamilton County Schools

After shoveling through all the hyperbole, rhetoric, blustering, and noisy tantrums in the local news outlets this week, it's clear that no leadership involved with the darling Hamilton County School System knows how to manage things.    Why is building a new Harrison Elementary such a problem for people?  Word is that raw sewage erupts from restroom stalls.  Who ... (click for more)

Killing Public Education

Bill O'Reilly has gone on quite a killing spree. He has written books such as Killing the Rising Sun, Killing Reagan, Killing Patton, Killing Jesus, Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln. I think he should also write one called Killing Public Education.  Here is what is killing public education: A Culture of Disrespect is rampant in our schools. This can be created by a ... (click for more)

St. Elmo Woman, 45, Dies At County Workhouse On Wednesday Night; Investigation Underway

An inmate died at the county workhouse at Silverdale on Wednesday night, and an investigation is underway.   She was identified as  Dana Shunice Palmer, 45, of St. Elmo.   Ms. Palmer was booked into the Hamilton County Jail from the Chattanooga Police Department on Feb. 14 on a public Intoxication charge. She was transferred from the jail to CoreCivic ... (click for more)

Shannon Whitfield Raising Rates At Money-Losing Walker County Landfill; Moratorium Placed On Fracking, Deep Well Drilling, Tiny Homes

New Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield is raising rates at the money-losing Walker County Landfill. The higher charges go into effect on March 1. Mr. Whitfield, during his campaign, said the landfill had been losing about $500,000 per year for many years. He said other area landfills were making a profit, but Walker County was having to subsidize its landfill. ... (click for more)

Legendary Howard Coach Henry Bowles Dies At 80

Legendary Howard High Coach Henry Wesley Bowles, Sr., has died at the age of 80 after a lengthy illness. Coach Bowles was born in Chattanooga on Oct. 14, 1936. He graduated from Howard High School, class of 1955, and received his bachelor of arts degree from Lane College, Jackson, Tn. While at Lane College, he was student council president, business manager and Who’s Who among ... (click for more)

Silverdale Girls Claim District 5-A Championship

The face and philosophy might have changed, but the expectations for the Silverdale Baptist Academy girls’ basketball team remained the same. Heading into the season with five seniors and a first-year, first-time head coach in Victor Underwood, the Lady Seahawks had their sights set on winning a District 5-A championship. Wednesday night, they achieved that goal with ... (click for more)