WEST MEMPHIS, AR (abc24.com) - It is late on a Friday night, do you know where your kids are? In West Memphis, a judge could soon be asking parents that very question. The City Council is considering an enhanced curfew law to hold parents more accountable for their children.
"Maybe being out at 2 o'clock in the morning, 3 o'clock in the morning is not a major problem, but what is that leading too?" said West Memphis Police Chief Donald Oakes.
Oakes says the current curfew law doesn't give police many enforcement options.
"We wind up basically babysitting them," he said.
The West Memphis City Council will soon consider an amendment to the city's ordinance that would give police the option of detaining minors who continue to violate curfew laws.
"We certainly need some way to bring these kids in front of a juvenile judge, get them into our juvenile court system," said Oakes.
Chief Oakes says such a move would allow police to start tracking minors, with the option of citing the parents after the third such curfew violation.
"We are not looking for a way to go charge parents who are dealing with problem children, we are looking for a way to address parents who are not parenting," he said.
"I wouldn't even consider putting a charge on a person for a lifetime for something their child had done," said Herman Coleman, a West Memphis City Council member.
Coleman says he supports an enhanced curfew law, but doesn't like holding parents so accountable.
"A lot of times kids do things they shouldn't, a lot of times parents don't know for sure their kids are doing these things, and if we put a charge on parents that could possibly stop them from securing a good position. That wouldn't be fair to them," Coleman said.
"If we can stop them when they are doing something minor, then hopefully that will prevent them from doing something more major," said Taz Tyrone, West Memphis Police Commission chairman.
The West Memphis City Council will consider the curfew amendment when it meets later this month.