This article continues a conversation started by the Admin’s opinion post on Facebook, the text of which can be seen here.
In that post, the Admin suggested a curfew be put in place that started at 7 PM for any unescorted person under the age of 17 with exceptions for work and emergencies. Community member Tiffany Morton correctly pointed out in a commont that the City of Newnan has a standing curfew on the books.
This article takes a look at that curfew, and how it relates to the reality of juvenile crime in the area of Ashley Park.
City of Newnan Ord. No. 14-12 ( Curfew ) states the following, in part: ( Click here for the whole text )
(a) It is unlawful for any minor under 16 years of age to loiter, wander, stroll or play in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds or other public grounds, public places, public buildings, places of amusement, eating places, vacant lots or any place unsupervised by an adult having the lawful authority to be at such places, between the hours of 12:00 midnight on any day and 6:00 a.m. of the following day; and provided, that the provisions of this section shall not apply in the following instances:
(1) When a minor is accompanied by his parent, guardian or other adult person having the lawful care and custody of the minor;
(2) When the minor is upon an emergency errand directed by his or her parent or guardian or other adult person having the lawful care and custody of such minor;
(3) When the minor is returning directly home from a school activity, entertainment, recreational activity or dance;
(4) When the minor is returning directly home from lawful employment that makes it necessary to be in the above referenced places during the prescribed period of time; and
(5) When the minor is attending or traveling directly to or from an activity involving the exercise of first amendment rights of free speech, freedom of assembly or free exercise of religion.
(b) It shall be unlawful for the parent, guardian, or other person having custody or control of any child under 16 years of age to permit, or by insufficient control, to allow, such child to be in or upon the public streets or any other places between the hours of 12:00 midnight on any day and 6:00 a.m. the following day, except in circumstances set out in subsections (a)(1) through (a)(5) of this section. Upon conviction of a violation of this section for the first time, a person shall be given a warning citation. Upon further convictions, a person shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 and costs, or imprisonment in the city jail for not more than 60 days, or work on the city streets or work on the public works of the city for not more than 60 days, or be subject to any one or more of the within punishments. Each violation of this shall constitute a separate offense.
While the Ordinance, as it currently exists, is helpful, it seems lacking when viewed in conjunction with the reality seen in Newnan, particularly in the area of Ashley Park and other retail spaces off Newnan Crossing Bypass.
What follows is a breakdown of the current ordinance and how we believe it could, and should, be changed to better suit the needs of the community. This is our opinion and should be noted as such.
Let’s look at a couple of areas where the ordinance in it’s current form seems to be lacking in helping to solve the issues currently faced.
1. The Ordinance currently sets the age at 16.
2. The hours of Midnight to 6 AM fail to cover the hours in which juvenile crime is occurring.
Let’s start with the age. Due to protections afforded those 16 years and younger in the judicial system, it’s not possible for me to provide statistics on the number of people 16 and younger arrested, or citied for criminal activities are.
I can however, tell you the number of 17 year old suspects have been booked into the Coweta County jail from Jan 1st through Feb 12th of this year, fourteen. Of those fourteen bookings, 4 of them were in possession of a weapon at the time of their arrest.
It makes no sense that the age of 17 is treated as some type of magical year where no adult is responsible for your actions, however you are limited in your own responsibilities until the age of 18. Suspects arrested at 17, while dealt with in adult court, still require an adult to sign their bonds do to their age.
Let’s close the gap and make the age 17 and under.
With age out of the way, let’s take a look at the time frame. Currently set from Midnight to 6 AM, the numbers below will show that this time frame greatly misses the mark when it comes to the reality of juvenile crime.
A quick note on the numbers below. The following are all the criminal calls in the area of Ashley Park and surrounding retail centers off Newnan Crossing Bypass that I could confirm to have juvenile suspects associated with them. This is not all of the calls in the area, and is not all of the calls with juveniles, merely the calls that I could confirm. The dataset is from all CAD events as provided by the Coweta County 911 / EMA center for the Period Jan 1st to Feb 17th, 2023.
First lets, look a listing of the calls.
Calls with the Nature of Criminal Trespass are normally calls in which the business’ owner, or in the case of Ashley Park, their security, is requesting that LEO respond to remove one or more subjects from the property that have refused to do so after being asked. It’s also possible that someone previously trespassed has returned to the property.
Let’s now look at a breakdown of when these calls occurred, and how well the current ordinance responds to the time frames.
As you can clearly see, a vast majority of these calls came hours before the current curfew takes effect, 19 of the 24 total calls, with no calls occurring within half of the time from currently covered by the curfew.
Just over half, 10, of the 19 calls that occur outside the current time frame covered by the curfew occur between 6 PM and Midnight. 6 of those are between 7 PM and Midnight, the time frame suggested for an updated ordinance.
City of Newnan Ord. No. 15-106 ( Curfew for occupancy of C. J. Smith Memorial Park and surrounding streets. ) states the following, in part: ( Click here for the whole text )
A curfew of 10:30 p.m. is hereby put into effect for the use and occupancy of the C. J. Smith Memorial Park. It shall be unlawful for any person to use or occupy the C. J. Smith Memorial Park after 10:30 p.m. It shall further be unlawful for any person not a resident of Farmer Street, Glen Street, or Murray Street to loiter on such streets or in parked cars thereon after 10:30 p.m.
As you can see with this Ordinance, the City of Newnan has the ability to enact curfews that are localized by description or other means ( retail district, etc. ). meaning that it is within their ability to react to a localized increase in crime by enacting measures to protect citizens and businesses.
The numbers above are not all inclusive, they do not represent the numerous incidents in which 911 is not called, or that are handled by security. They don’t include incidents in the surrounding apartment complexes, the source of many of these juvenile offenders. However, even given that, they show clearly that the ordinance currently in place is lacking in it’s ability to help combat a serious and growing risk to the citizens and visitors to the cities largest retail and dining center.
Raising the age to 17 and expanding the time frame to include hours in which crime is actually occurring would greatly impact the ability of our law enforcement agencies to counteract the inability, or unwillingness, of parents to live up to their responsibility and would penalize them for such.
NCST is a service provided to the community by R41D41 Industries, LLC. When information is power, we believe the information should be in the hands of the community.
©2023 All Right Reserved. R41D41 Industries, LLC