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|Walsworth bill gives police juries authority to enact juvenile curfews|
Now that Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law Senate Bill 787, the Ouachita Parish Police Jury and other police juries throughout the state can implement a curfew for juveniles.
Sen. Mike Walsworth authored the bill at the request of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury. It passed without opposition during the regular legislative session, which ended last week.
The bill was signed by Jindal late last week. It becomes effective Aug. 15.
Parish attorney Jay Mitchell said the parish most likely will adopt a curfew ordinance that mirrors the ones implemented by the cities of Monroe and West Monroe.
He said curfews historically have only been executed in cities, not rural areas. Many rural areas, though, according to Mitchell, are as urban as neighboring cities.
Also, in rural areas, youth typically can be found fishing late at night, or traveling early in the morning for hunting excursions.
Mitchell said the parish will consider those activities when drafting its curfew ordinance.
By not having a parish curfew ordinance, Mitchell said there has been some inconsistency in enforcing curfews for youth in the area. For example, youth who live in the cities of Monroe and West Monroe are subject to a curfew, but they might have friends who live nearby whose homes are located in the parish.
"Kids can just walk across the street to the next house and not be subject to a curfew," Mitchell said.
Mitchell said the police jury's staff will get input from the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office and the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office while drafting the new ordinance.
The police jury was asked by former Sheriff Richard Fewell and District Attorney Jerry Jones for its support in establishing a juvenile curfew.
According to the sheriff's office, there has been a rise in juvenile crime during the late evening and early morning hours.
Currently, the police jury does not have the authority to establish a juvenile curfew which is why it wanted the Legislature to grant the parish a "limited police power" to implement a curfew for youth.
Other parish governing bodies in the state have passed similar juvenile curfew ordinances without seeking approval from the Legislature.
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury, however, declined to adopt any ordinance until it was granted the authority by the Legislature to do it.
Parish officials said without approval from the Legislature, a loophole could be created allowing someone to legally challenge the ordinance.
Walsworth's legislation grants all police juries in the state the authority to enact curfew ordinances.
Police juries will have the authority to recommend the time and age for those who would be affected by a juvenile curfew ordinance.
Typically, juvenile curfews affect those who are 17 years old and under.
Several juvenile curfews that have been adopted elsewhere in Louisiana say juveniles age 17 and under cannot remain in public places between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. weekdays, and 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.