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Memphis community advocates suggest stronger enforcement of teen curfew

Police said it's primarily on parents to prioritize enforcement with their children.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Following weeks of major headlines involving Memphis teenagers charged in carjackings, car thefts, and even murder, community advocates joined forces with solutions Monday. 

They urged parents and police better enforce the city's curfew law already on the books and cut down on crimes at hours young people shouldn't be out in the first place.

"Crime is just ridiculous, it's out of control, and I'm tired!" Kenny Lee with the crime intervention group 'Ride Of Tears' said Monday. "Hold these parents accountable and stop saying we are going to do something and do something!"

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The advocates demanded stronger parental involvement and police enforcement of the city of Memphis curfew law that's been in place for decades. It lays out the different hours for when a 17-year-old or those 16 and younger must be home, each day of the week.

It also spells out the parent's responsibility in making sure the child follows the curfew and carves out certain exceptions for teenagers running errands or going to and from work.

"I'm not trying to be hard on police but if there's a curfew ordinance in place why are we still having killings, why are young people still walking the streets," Lee added.

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In response, Memphis Police Association President Lt. Essica Cage-Rosario told ABC24: "We expect the parents to be the first to enforce the curfew law. We don't have the manpower or the time to do the parenting that's required. We are busy enough dealing with shootings and other crimes that take priority."

A Memphis Police Department spokesperson added: "When an officer encounters a juvenile, the officer will attempt to contact a parent or guardian to come pick up the child, or the officer can take them home. Juvenile Court will not take a child for curfew violation. This means an officer will have to stand by, out of service, until someone comes and picks up the child. We ask that parents and guardians be aware of their children's whereabouts. Juvenile curfew violations can be reduced if parents and or guardians closely monitor the actions of their children." 

Community advocate Al Lewis offered another solution to better enforce the Memphis curfew.

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"I don't know if it could be augmented by the (Shelby County) Sheriff's Department or the Highway Patrol or that the city really needs to invest in a different kind of community policing that they can effectuate that in the community but most certainly it needs to be happening at any expense right now," Lewis said.

Children found in violation of the curfew law are usually brought home by a Memphis police officer or held at a police precinct until a parent picks that child up. A parent is typically charged with a misdemeanor and faces up to a $50 fine.

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