Owensboro officials likely won’t be lowering the city’s juvenile curfew, Mayor Tom Watson said Monday.

The current curfew is not enforced against parents of violators, Watson said.

While county curfew does include accountability for parents, Daviess County Attorney Claud Porter said agreed that the penalty is easily circumvented.

At a meeting last month, the Rev. DeMarcus Curry, founder of Owensboro Youth Empowerment Summit, asked commissioners to consider lowering the juvenile curfew to 9 p.m.

Currently, unemancipated juveniles cannot be out between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., except under specific circumstances, such as being accompanied by a parent or if they are going to or from work or a sponsored activity.

Watson said Monday he discussed the curfew with city Police Chief Art Ealum.

“They have issued some citations, and they are usually dismissed by the judge or legal system,” Watson said.

If the curfew were lowered to 9 p.m. “it would be the same thing,” Watson said. OPD, he said, “doesn’t have enough people to enforce that if they are not going to be held accountable.”

Watson said: “I don’t think it’s the government’s job, because it’s unenforceable.”

The curfew ordinance, which was passed in 1999, says a parent or legal guardian of a minor who violates the curfew can be cited and fined up to $250 per offense.

Porter said the curfew ordinance contains a provision that says a citation against a juvenile must be dismissed if the guardian has filed a petition saying the juvenile is beyond parental control.

The ordinance says says it is a “complete defense” against being cited if a guardian has filed such a petition, and says a parent who files a “beyond control” petition within 48 hours of being cited is also immune being held liable.

If a parent of guardian petitions to have the juvenile declared beyond control, the citation against the parent must be dismissed, Porter said.

The courts can’t enforce rules for parents, Porter said.

“What someone is asking us to do is for the courts to take care of the kids rather than parents, and the courts don’t really have a way to do that,” Porter said.

Curry said juveniles who are active in organized sports clubs, at city community centers, at sponsored events and at work don’t have opportunities to break curfew and potentially get into trouble.

Parents, Curry, said need to be made aware of the opportunities the city and other organizations have for young people and teens.

“As long as they are active and doing something, that could eliminate being out late at night,” Curry said.

Many parents are accountable for their children’s actions and whereabouts, Curry said.

“That’s why some parents are checking their kids’ rooms, to make sure they are at home,” Curry said. “The ones not doing that are the ones that are the problem.”

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse

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