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City commissioners still debating curfew ordinance

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By Alice Du Pont

Quincy city commissioners voted to table a youth protection ordinance that would place a curfew on youth under 17 years of age from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days per week.

When Ferman Richardson, police chief, introduced the ordinance 2 weeks ago, commissioners said they didn't have enough statistical information to make a decision. Richardson said he spoke with a police lieutenant with the Leesburg Police Department, and the Quincy ordinance was based on that model.

"They don't have any statistics but he believes that crime is going down since their ordinance has been in place," Richardson said.

Larry White, city attorney, said he talked with city attorneys in Ft. Pierce and Tampa but neither had statistics on the effects of the curfew on their juvenile population and crime.

Denise Hannah said she didn't think the ordinance is necessary and that she views it as a mechanism to place restrictions on young people. She said if the ordinance is followed as written, youth could be arrested for standing their yards after 10 p.m.

She said she also worried that minor confrontations will escalate and young people could end up arrested.

Commissioner Angela Sapp said she couldn't support the ordinance unless she had more state and national statistical data.

“This is a serious ordinance that places a curfew on our kids. We already have ordinances on the books that will address this, such as loitering,” said Mayor Andy Gay.

Commissioner Keith Dowdell said he would like to see workshops held, perhaps in all five districts, to get input from citizens before he decides to support or reject the ordinance.

“We're trying to make our streets safe, no more and no less," Richardson said.