Pike interested in reviewing curfew ordinance

ALBANY, Ga. -- The city's mayor pro-tem has asked that information on the city's curfew ordinance be brought back before the Albany City Commission at its next meeting for discussion in an effort to possibly revamp the ordinance.

The request comes in the wake of a shooting near the State Theatre downtown during a back-to-school party. Police are continuing their investigation into the event but have arrested 19-year-old Nicholas Johnson. He's being charged with several crimes, including discharging a firearm within the city limits and obstruction of police.

During Tuesday's meeting, Pike asked that the ordinance, which bans anyone under the age of 18 from being out past 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and past midnight on Friday and Saturday, be brought back to the table for discussion.

Specifically, Pike said he wants to look at possible ramifications to local businesses that knowingly hold events that keep minors out past the curfew.

"We have to try and do something that will keep these young people off the streets," Pike said.

While Johnson, who is 19, is legally an adult, police officials say the party was attended by several juveniles, including a 12-year-old who was at the scene until 2:30 a.m.

Exceptions to the existing city ordinance are for underage persons who are traveling between home and work; anyone who is accompanied by a parent or guardian 21 or older; a minor who is on an emergency errand; a minor traveling to or from an activity involving free speech, free assembly or religious events; a minor traveling with adult parents through the city.

The ordinance also makes it unlawful for parents, guardians or anyone having custody of a minor under 18 years old to "allow such a child to be in or upon the public streets" during the banned hours.

Upon first violation, the ordinance allows for a warning to be issued, followed by a fine not to exceed $500 or 180 days of community service.

The ordinance as it currently stands is more restrictive than the state's only statutory reference to a curfew.

According to O.C.G.A. 15-11-2(12)(E), a child can be charged as an "unruly child" if he or she "... wanders or loiters about the streets or in any public place between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m."

That statute doesn't discern between weekends or weekdays and is also limited by the state's definition of a juvenile, which is anyone under the age of 17.