Vernon, Florida is taking a second look at its teenage curfew. City council members in the Washington County town are planning to extend the curfew one hour later and up to 18 years of age as they hope it will reduce the problem of vandalism and loitering.
Teenagers in the City of Vernon will soon have less time to spend outdoors once a revised curfew goes into effect.
“We have children walking the streets when there's no reason for them to be on the streets," says Tray Hawkins.
Vernon city council president Tray Hawkins says a large part of the issue comes down to the city not having its own law enforcement agency. He says the problem escalated after they noticed vandalism at one of their renovated parks.
"We try to keep it kid friendly but at the same time, we want our kids to respect what we do for them. And when they did that, that was just a slap in the face to us," Hawkins says.
The current teenage curfew only applies from 10pm to 6am up to the age of 15. The new one will actually extend the curfew from 11pm to 6am Sunday through Thursday and 12:01am to 6am Fridays and Saturdays. The ordinance goes one step further and bans any suspended or expelled juveniles under 16 years old from coming within 1,000 feet of a school.
"If they can't act right in school, they don't have the rights to wander our streets during school hours," Hawkins says.
"My biggest question or concern is what are the students going to be involved in after 8, 9 o'clock during the week?" says Vernon High School Principal Brian Riviere. Riviere agrees there is a need for a curfew, but is concerned about the timing issue. "Now a curfew of 11o'clock during the school week I feel personally is too late, we would hope our students would be home much earlier than this."
City council members held their first public hearing on the curfew Monday night.
They must wait two weeks before the second reading at the beginning of the year.
The revised curfew cites a written warning for the first offense followed by a maximum fine of up to $500 and six months in jail.