Pensacola City Councilman John Jerralds seemed nearly giddy Monday night as he tried to sell area officials on a county-wide teen curfew. The Councilman wants to see kids off the streets by 11 p.m.
“I grew up on lockdown, because my parents had something for me that was worse than jail,” Jerralds said.
Throughout the meeting, the Councilman attempted to convince law enforcement, school and county officials that a curfew would help to curb teen violence and crime, as well as reconnect—via a city-enforced mandate—family units.
“If you have ever been a child or had a child, it’s important that we come up with something to do,” Jerralds said.
Fellow officials were accommodating, but did give a little push-back on the concept.
“I’m not really sure—11 p.m.?” asked Norm Ross, deputy superintendent of the Escambia County School District. “I’m not really comfortable with that.”
Logistics were also an issue. Law enforcement would be saddled with a new responsibility if the curfew becomes reality.
Possible exceptions were also brought up: kids working late, out of towners unaware of the curfew, school-related activities, teens legally separated from their parents, that kind of stuff. Also, law enforcement had concerns about being able to discern between a youth and someone slightly older (18) that would be perfectly legal on a late-night street.
“How are officers going to know?” asked Pensacola Police Chief Chip Simmons. “I think the manpower-needs and the exceptions would need to be hatched out pretty well.”
Or maybe the idea of curfew just seemed a little stifling.
“When you were 16 or 17, did you want your mom and dad down with you at the beach,” laughed Escambia County Administrator Randy Oliver.
Jerralds said kids shouldn’t be at the beach that late.
“Children have too much time,” he said. “When we were growing up we didn’t have that much time.”
Oliver suggested that the city go it alone at first—“establish the product”—then maybe the county would join in. Jerralds was not hip to that idea.
By the end of the meeting, the Councilman said he was open to suggestions and that the involved parties should continue discussing the concept. Further meetings will be scheduled.
If passed, the curfew would demand that youth be off the streets by 11 p.m. on weeknights, and midnight on the weekends; exceptions would be made for school and work-related activities. A daytime curfew—running during school hours—is also being kicked around.
Watch out kids, this weekend Councilman Jerralds may make you mow the lawn.