OKOLONA – Juveniles out after curfew in Okolona must now be accompanied by an adult or face being detained by police.
Aldermen passed an amendment to its curfew ordinance last week that requires anyone under the age of 18 out after hours to be accompanied by someone over the age of 25.
The new ordinance is designed to take a bite out of juvenile crime and several aldermen have said they want something in place and being enforced before summer.
“I wanted a responsible adult in charge,” said Ward 3 Alderman Eldridge Lowe. “The problem with the other ordinance was it said 18. Everybody knew that wasn’t working.”
The previous ordinance defined someone over the age of 18 as an adult and allowed teenagers to be in their presence and not be breaking city rules. The city had initially contemplated the new age limit at 21.
Tuesday’s vote bumped it up to 25-years-old.
“I think 25 (years-old) is better,” said Lowe. “Now all we need to do is make sure it is enforced.”
Okolona Town Marshal Tommie Ivy came before city aldermen in February sayings his department has been unable to write citations for curfew violations for juveniles because the law was vague.
“We had a youngster who had a problem stealing cars out after curfew and riding with people over 18,” said Ivy. “When we stopped the car all we could tell them was to go home.”
Okolona City Attorney Gene Barton pointed out that anyone over the age of 18 caught committing a crime in the presence of someone under the age of 18 can be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Under the new ordinance anyone underage and out after curfew can be detained by police. Parents are traditionally called to pick them up. Curfew violations are presented in Chickasaw County Juvenile Court and if a conviction is obtained, traditionally see the parent or guardian fined.