PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — The Petersburg City Council voted Tuesday to extend the locality’s curfew for minors by one hour on each end, amid efforts to curb recent gun violence.
A city ordinance previously stated that residents under the age of 18 would not permitted to be out in public between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., unless they were “accompanied by such parent, guardian or other adult person having the care and custody of such person, or is on an emergency errand or legitimate business and has a written statement to that effect signed by such parent, guardian or other adult person having the care and custody of such person.” But this week, council members voted unanimously to expand the curfew to 10 p.m. through 6 a.m.
“The intent for this change in the curfew is not to punish our kids,” Petersburg Police Chief Travis Christian said. “It’s merely to make our parents responsible for the whereabouts of their children.”
As written, the city ordinance stated the following:
It shall be unlawful for any parent, guardian or other adult person having the care and custody of any person under 18 years of age to knowingly permit, allow or encourage such person to be and remain in and upon any street, avenue, road, alley, park, vacant lot, playground, place of amusement, or in and upon any other public place, whether of like kind or not, in the city between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. of the following day.
As noted, the curfew for minors has now been extended on each end. But city council members were also considered whether to further amend the ordinance to remove the language about another “adult person having the care and custody of any person under 18.” That’s because local leaders were concerned about the responsibility an older sibling might have, for example, over a minor. However, council members opted to retain the language for the time being.
“Unfortunately, either way that we do this, we’re going to disappoint some of our community, and for those who don’t understand it, when you have a loss of a child or anybody else in your family and we proceed not to do anything, I get 50 calls, Mayor get 50 calls, everybody get 50 calls of, ‘What you going to do?'” Councilman W. Howard Myers, representing Ward 5, said. “Now, it’s time to do something.”
Each council member voted in favor of instituting a 10 p.m. curfew, in addition to having the City Attorney reach out to the state government with respect to the possibility of expanding the curfew even further to 8 p.m.
Chief Christian said that these efforts would be temporary, with residents expected to be outside more and not in school during the summer months.
Residents who spoke during the public comment period at Tuesday’s meeting had mixed responses to the decision.
“Every day, I talk to people who are the ones most affected by the violence, especially in Ward 5,” one woman said. “They feel that they are the ones left behind, the ones that no one cares about. If no one cares, why should they care?”
The vote to extend the city’s curfew came nearly one month after Petersburg officials announced their plans to combat the recent rise in gun violence, detailing steps that would be taken after seven people were shot in a matter of just four days.
“After just hearing this curfew that you all are proposing to impose, it kind of made me wonder if the governor and the City of Petersburg is contemplating doing something like this for our youth, and why can’t we do this for the homeless, as well?” another resident said during the meeting’s public comment period.
Thursday morning, the Petersburg Police Department issued a release, stating that investigators were looking into three separate shootings that left four people with non-life-threatening injuries earlier in the week.
Anyone with information on the recent shooting incidents is urged to contact Crime Solvers at 804-861-1212.
Local leaders will also be hosting a roundtable discussion on May 23 at 6 p.m. at the Petersburg Public Library regarding violence in the city. According to a release, panel participants include students, parents, educators, community partners, and city and school leaders. Those unable to attend may view a live stream of the roundtable, and may submit questions prior to the meeting.