Roanoke City Council hosts final public hearing on enforcing curfew for kids

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 10:43 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Council has been exploring changes to the city’s current curfew for kids 16 and younger, hosting two public meetings this month with the final one Thursday night at Patrick Henry High School. The majority who spoke shared they are against a curfew.

“Exactly what is the message we want to convey to our youth here in the Roanoke Valley? How many good youth will be negatively affected by a curfew?” asked Dr. Brenda Hale, president of the Roanoke NAACP Branch.

Roanoke’s current city code states in part: anyone 16 years old and younger may not be out in the city without an adult from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Roanoke City Council is looking at expanding, restricting or adding more enforcement to it, coming after half a dozen juveniles were injured in gunfire this year.

“I’m here today to speak against the idea of a curfew. I think what we all are looking at are the few bad apples,” said Jayveon Tucker, president of the Roanoke NAACP Youth Council.

Enforcement of a curfew was another concern.

“At 11 or 12 at night how can police know if they are stopping a 16-year-old or a 25-year-old? I can see where that would open a lot of problems. Overpolicing in some neighborhoods, getting complaints about not enough policing in other neighborhoods,” one resident said.

“With my role in the NAACP I am supposed to help and come up with solutions to limit the interaction between youth and police officers for unnecessary reasons, such as traffic stops or walking home,” said Tucker.

Mayor Lea continues to be in support of some kind of curfew and said this is all about safety.

“The major factor behind it is safety, not arresting people and finding out where they’re coming from at night or they’re out there. I think those things can be worked out, curfews aren’t new and so my position, I feel supportive of some form of curfew,” said Lea.

Some residents feel the City doesn’t have enough resources for the youth.

“We have to make Roanoke more youth-friendly and this has been a problem my whole life,” said resident Phazhon Nash.

“We need to focus on them and we need to listen to them thoroughly, not in places like this,” said one resident.

“We’ve got to allocate more time to our youth. We have to invest in them,” said Hale.

Some feel a solution starts at home.

“Teach your children how to be respectful, teach your children not to curse grown people,” one resident said.

Roanoke City Council will still need to bring the curfew to a vote at a future meeting and Mayor Lea said he wants that to be sooner than later.