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|OPPJ introduces juvenile curfew measure|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury took one more step Monday toward establishing a juvenile curfew in unincorporated areas of the parish.
During its regular meeting Monday, the police jury introduced an ordinance that makes it unlawful for people under the age of 17 to be on public property in unincorporated areas of the parish during specific times.
Gov. Bobby Jindal last month signed into law a bill authored by Sen. Mike Walsworth, which gives parish governments throughout the state the authority to implement juvenile curfews.
The police jury was asked by former Sheriff Richard Fewell and District Attorney Jerry Jones for its support in establishing the juvenile curfew. That led to Walsworth sponsoring his juvenile curfew bill.
According to the sheriff's office, there has been a rise in juvenile crime during the late evening and early morning hours.
Before the legislation was signed into law by Jindal, parish governments did not have the authority to establish a juvenile curfew.
However, other parish governing bodies in the state have passed juvenile curfews without seeking approval from the Legislature.
The police jury declined to adopt a juvenile curfew ordinance until it was granted the authority by the Legislature.
The police jury is expected to take final action on the proposed ordinance at its next regular meeting. That meeting is scheduled for Aug. 18.
A public hearing will be held at the meeting to allow citizens an opportunity to comment on the proposed ordinance before the police jury takes action.
Under the proposed ordinance, it would be unlawful for "any minor under the age of 17 to remain on public property or a public place in the unincorporated areas of Ouachita Parish" from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and from midnight to 5 a.m. Friday through Sunday.
The ordinance also states it would be unlawful for parents or guardians to "knowingly permit such child to violate" any provision of the ordinance.
There are provisions in the proposed ordinance that exempt minors if they are accompanied by parents, guardians or an adult who has care and custody of a juvenile. The provisions also will not apply to minors on an emergency errand, going to and form work, or participating in any civic, religious or school-sponsored activities.
Minors who violate the ordinance would "be dealt with in accordance to the juvenile laws of the state," according to the ordinance. Also, any parent, guardian or other person found guilty of violating the ordinance will be charged with a misdemeanor and could be fined $500 or imprisoned for no more than 30 days, or both.