OXFORD – Responding to incidents in recent months where out-of-control crowds threatened public safety, Oxford officials Tuesday discussed the possibility of a youth curfew.
Police Chief Joey East’s proposal would forbid anyone age 16 or under to be at large after 10 p.m.
Mayor Pat Patterson introduced video at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting of the latest such incident, when people were leaving a downtown party shortly before midnight on Aug. 26.
“I have been reluctant about bringing this to public attention, but I think it’s important people know about this,” Patterson said.
East said his concern is less that late-roaming teens might commit crimes as they might be victimized.
“When I was young, we hung out on the Square, but there were only two bars, and nobody bothered us,” East said.
Now, bars dominate downtown Oxford after 9 p.m., and late-night disturbances are frequent.
Patterson noted underage drinking adds to the risk to youths.
“You can take $100 and buy a high-quality fake ID online,” he said. “Every one of these kids has a very valid (looking) 21-year-old ID.”
East said other cities’ curfew laws varied in the ages involved, and while his proposal would be citywide, he said, “we know some cities are doing it just in their bar areas.”
Both Patterson and East emphasized the proposal needs to be shaped by public input.
“I want to … get everybody talking about it so we make the right decision,” East said. “It’s not an emergency.”
Patterson said he also would not push for a quick decision.
“The world’s changing,” he lamented. “Let’s keep this on the forefront. … We’re going to keep after this.”