By Karolyn Gephart
By unanimous vote, the Friendswood Reporter News was given the designation of the Official Newspaper for the City of Friendswood for a term of service from October 01, 2020, to September 30, 2022 at the regularly scheduled Council meeting Monday, October 5, 2020.
Prior to the meeting, a public hearing was held regarding the need to continue the juvenile curfew ordinance.
The Local Government Code requires cities to review their juvenile (under the age of 17) curfew ordinances every three years. This process involves conducting a public hearing to determine whether the ordinance should be abolished, be continued or be modified.
The Friendswood Police Department supports the ordinance which is a valuable tool for the night shift and enables officers to take police action when appropriate because it establishes probable cause for possible questioning.
The ordinance enables police officers to discourage juveniles from going out after hours and this decreases the incidents of juvenile-related crime at night.
Mostly juveniles receive warnings and the officers then escort them home, but sometimes it is necessary to issue citations. The following information represents the number of citations issued over the last four years: 2017 – 22 citations; 2018 – 19 citations; 2019 – 13 citations; and 2020 to date – 27 citations.
The fluctuation in citations from one year to the next is usually attributed to a large party or gathering of minors after curfew hours where the police are called out, but there are years where such response calls are less frequent, according to city reports.
The PD exercises appropriate discretion in the administration of the ordinance.
During the Council meeting, Council members heard the first meeting of the ordinance establishing a curfew for persons under the age of 17 years between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on any day of the week and between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. for school-aged children on school days.
The remaining ordinance reads providing it is unlawful for any person subject to a curfew hereunder to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the City of Friendswood during curfew hours; providing it is unlawful for any parent or guardian of a person subject to a curfew hereunder to knowingly permit or by insufficient control, allow such person to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the city during curfew hours; providing it is unlawful for any person owning, operating, or in the employment of any establishment during curfew hours; providing defenses to prosecution for violations hereunder; providing an effective date; providing a penalty of an amount not to exceed $500 for each day of violation of any provision hereof; making certain findings; repealing all other ordinances or parts of ordinances inconsistent or in conflict herewith; and providing for severability.
Council approved the first reading 6-1 with John Scott giving the dissenting vote.