School bells Monday morning mark the end of summer vacation for Macon students, but police are still on the lookout for youths who are violating the city’s curfew ordinance.
During the summer, a group of Macon police officers concentrated their efforts enforcing the ordinance, which prohibits children under 17 from loitering on the streets between midnight and 5 a.m.
From May 31 to Aug. 3, officers issued 23 citations to parents or guardians. Three children were charged with entering an auto, and two reported runaways were returned home, according to police statistics. No children were picked up twice on curfew violations.
Police also made three marijuana arrests, as well as ones for DUI and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Parents who were cited received warnings in Macon Municipal Court, Maj. Robert Grabowski said.
A number of the children picked up on curfew violations already were on probation, said Greg Winters, Bibb County’s district attorney. Each case was handled individually, and punishments varied in Bibb County Juvenile Court.
Although the number of citations may seem low, for Grabowski they signal success.
Parents were made aware of the curfew and they “did take on the responsibility of knowing where their kids were,” he said.
Also, the intent was not to see how many cases officers could make -- quite the opposite. The intent was crime reduction and public safety,” he said in a statement.
Knowing that police were out looking for teens who were wandering the streets may also have had a bearing on the numbers, Chief Mike Burns said.
“How many teenagers stayed home because they knew we were going to be out there?” he asked.
Enforcing the curfew affected crimes juveniles typically commit. Reports of car break-ins and burglaries, for example, went down during the enforcement effort, Grabowski said.
“Sometimes when (children are) out late at night and parents don’t know, they’ll get talked into doing things they wouldn’t ordinarily do,” he said.
Children who police caught out after hours were taken either to the police training academy on Jackson Street or to a police precinct. There, officers called parents and guardians.
When adults came to pick up the children, officers gave them a copy of the ordinance. Police Youth and Intervention Division officers made follow-up calls in the days after the violations, offering families options for activities to keep children occupied during the summer months.
Grabowski said he hasn’t received any complaints from children -- or parents.
Police are considering repeating the enforcement effort during Christmas holidays, spring break and next summer.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.