By Bonnie Culverhouse
For the past few months, Safety Initiative Program (SIP) commission members have been working on three ordinances to present for a Minden City Council vote.
At a workshop last week, the council was presented with drafts of two of the three, and those two brought about major discussion.
The first proposed ordinance – shown here – involves a curfew for juveniles (persons under 18 years of age).
According to the proposed ordinance, “curfew” means a regulation to restrict outdoor activities of juveniles in the city between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. each day, except Fridays and Saturdays, on which days the curfew shall be in force from midnight until 5 a.m., except on designated holidays, on which days the curfew shall be in force from midnight until 5 a.m.
“After receiving a lot of input, we changed the curfew times from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. each day,” said Minden Police Association President Jason Smith. “We also added specific holidays to the ordinance.”
Where the original ordinance named a few nonspecific holidays, it was recommended they designate the exemptions to New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Easter.
Special dispensation is also being added to cover events such as the fair, church and sporting events and other similar events where parental guidance is involved.
Once it is a law, fines are enforceable to parents or guardians whose underage children are out past curfew. There is also a possibility of community service for the youth.
Even after discussion, only two councilpersons felt comfortable saying whether they would like to put this ordinance on the next agenda for a vote.
District A councilman Wayne Edwards said no, he needs more time to review, while District D Councilman Michael Roy said yes.
“If this inconveniences a thousand people and saves one life, then we’ve done our job,” Smith said. “We are trying to save these kids from being a victim or witnessing a crime.”
District E councilwoman Pam Bloxom referred to a workshop with teens and their parents concerning the ordinance.
“If you remember, there was one black mother who came up to the microphone and said: ‘I want to know if my kid is out without my permission,’” Bloxom said. “That spoke volumes to me, right there.”
Lt. Joel Kendrick, vice president of the Minden Police Association, said the ordinance will give the police enforceable teeth.
“Right now, we can tell them to get off the streets and go home, and they can go on about their business,” Kendrick said.
SIP Commission member Mike Harper asked to hear from the other two councilpersons on the subject.
“Are we headed in the right direction?” he asked. “Is this something you want to see happen?”
“It is, but what about the parent whose child is repeatedly out, and the parent says they have permission?” District B councilwoman Terika Williams-Walker asked.
“It depends on what that child is doing,” Kendrick responded. “And if they fall within the left and right limits of the exceptions to the rule.”
Minden resident Dennis Myles (District E) is in total disagreement with the ordinance.
“It sounds like you are going to violate a bunch of civil rights,” Myles told the council. “You’re telling a parent how to parent. If I choose to let my children do wrong on the streets of Minden, that should be my choice. You can’t legislate morality.”
Harper said he agreed to be a part of the commission because “I kind of like this city. I want it to be a better city.”
He said District Councilman Vincen Bradford had not given him any idea of whether he thought the ordinance was a good idea.
“I can’t tell you how I’m going to vote,” Bradford responded. “This is not a place to vote. Let’s move on.”
Mayor Terry Gardner asked council members to review the ordinances.
“Let me know if I can put these on the next agenda,” he said. “I’m not going to put them on the agenda to fail. I want to put them on the agenda to pass to help our police officers.”
Watch for stories on the City Parks and Property ordinance, police and fire raises and a possible increase in water rates in the Webster Parish Journal.
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