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Hitt suggests county curfew for teens

By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Oct. 4, 2002
On a regular basis across Lauderdale County, traffic signs disappear and residential mailboxes are knocked down, driven over and smashed.
And now, because vandals have caused thousands of dollars in damage to West Lauderdale and Southeast high schools, teen-agers may loose some of their freedom.
Hitt, who also represents District 3, suggested at a supervisors' meeting Thursday that the board consider a countywide curfew for teen-agers.
School damage
County law enforcement officials suspect juveniles were responsible for thousands dollars in vandalism at the two high schools. Windows, computers and other equipment were damaged.
The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department is still investigating the incidents and had no suspects Thursday.
A curfew for teen-agers would mark the second one in the county.
The city of Meridian adopted its own curfew ordinance in 1996. Teen-agers must be off city streets by 10 p.m. weekdays and midnight on weekends.
Detective J.C. Lewis, a Meridian Police Department juvenile officer, said that the MPD used to stop teens on a regular basis. He said curfew violations have lessened over the years.
Supervisors' call
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said he's in favor of a curfew. But, Sollie said, it's the board of supervisors' responsibility to write an ordinance.
Hitt suggested supervisors consider an 11 p.m. weekday and midnight weekend curfew. Before enacting a curfew, Hitt said the board would have to wait 30 days and hold a public hearing.
Hitt said supervisors have a responsibility to consider a curfew to protect taxpayer interests in Lauderdale County.
If teen-agers are found responsible for the damage to Southeast and West Lauderdale high schools, he said, it will be up to a judge to order the parents to pay for damages.
Otherwise, Hitt said, "it is the taxpayers who will replace the broken items and repair damages."