Mayor of Starkville proposes city-wide curfew for minors as part of ongoing efforts to halt rising juvenile crime

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Tuesday, Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill called for a public hearing on the possibility of adopting a city-wide curfew for minors.

This is part of the joint push by city officials, law enforcement and concerned citizens to halt the rise in youth crime.

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The mayor, Starkville Police Chief Mark Ballard and other community leaders have all said they believe the long-term solution is to put programs in place to get area youth involved in something constructive.

But in the short term, they believe a city-wide curfew is necessary.

“We’re trying to respond to the times that we’re dealing with at this point,” Mayor Spruill said.

Starkville Police say they’ve charged 10 juveniles as adults with violent crimes in 2021 so far.

“There have been a number of recent events that have caught the public’s attention,” said Sgt. Brandon Lovelady. with SPD. “And of those incidents, nearly all of them involved juveniles and firearms.”

They include the shooting in McKee Park, the Easter murder at the intersection of Hillard and Sherman Streets and the 13-year-old shot in Brookville Gardens.

“A lot of these guns (involved in the shootings) are stolen guns and they’re being stolen by juveniles,” the mayor said. “I may be old-fashioned, but I don’t know a 13-year-old that has any business being out at three in the morning.”

That’s why she is proposing the curfew.

The preliminary version requires all minors to be inside from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

During the summer when schools are out, it would be midnight to 6 a.m. every night.

“There are certainly exceptions,” Mayor Spruill said. “Coming from school activities, coming from work, if they work late.”

As well as being accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. The mayor says the proposed curfew is modeled after the one in place in Meridian.

“Since they did it in 1996, that’s 25 years ago, and things have changed,” she said. “We didn’t have this problem 25 years ago, we haven’t had this problem until the last couple of years.”

If the curfew is approved by the city’s Board of Alderman, Starkville Police say they would enforce it much like they do underage drinking.

“When we check for underage drinking, we go and check someone’s ID. And, you know, if we believe they may be underage and be drinking officers are going to use their discretion.”

Both law enforcement and the mayor hope this can be a temporary measure.

“The main thing we want is to catch these individuals before they’re stuck in an adult system,” said Sgt. Lovelady. “We want to get them young, we want to get them in a mentorship program.”

In their continued mission to help area teenagers stay on track.

“Children need to be in school, they need to be learning,” Mayor Spruill said. “And so from my from my position, I would assume that truancy would be something that parents will be happy to have is making sure their children are where they say they are going to be.”

The mayor says there will a second public hearing before the board decides on whether or not to adopt the curfew.