Roanoke City Council still undecided on potential changes to curfew for kids

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 10:44 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke City Council continues to discuss potentially expanding the hours or adding more enforcement to the city’s current curfew for kids. Mayor Sherman Lea began the discussions in January after hearing about shootings involving juveniles and even visiting some in the hospital.

“Gun violence is surging here. I mean, whether we want it or not, every week, we have gun violence. And I think I don’t want our kids to get caught up in that,” said Lea.

Lea’s solution is making changes to the city’s current curfew, which states Sunday through Thursday kids sixteen and under may not be out from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and from midnight to 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, with some exceptions, such as being with an adult.

“I’m afraid of what I see down the road. What’s going on now with the summer coming and things seem to be changed. People are more divisive, there’s more fights going on,” said Lea.

Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman shared since January, 29 kids have been involved in gun violence, saying there have been 13 offenders and 16 victims. But Roman believes the current work that’s going on is enough.

“I believe we continue to see benefits from the course that we are on in terms of prevention, intervention and then justice when necessary. I don’t think that we should just, you know, run in and begin to charge all of our juveniles with curfew. Because, theoretically, you know, 90% of the juveniles that we come across are out for a legitimate reason,” said Roman.

City Manager Bob Cowell shared there have been only been five enforcements of the curfew since 2019. It also came up that many of the crimes are happening during the day, long before the curfew even goes into effect.

“We’re so focused on these evening hours, when really most of the violence that happens with juveniles is right after school,” said Council Member Peter Volosin.

For now, no decision on what to do with the curfew has been made. But Lea hopes whatever move is made is the right one.

“I pray that we’re right, because if not, this will come back,” said Lea.

The City Attorney and Manager will be exploring options that council expects to discuss on June 5.