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Council to vote Monday on youth curfew ordinance

City Council, public split on proposal aimed at preventing violence


The Fayetteville City Council’s decision Tuesday evening to further discuss a youth curfew has generated strong reactions from both council members and the public. 

The ordinance was put forward by Police Chief Kemberle Braden in the wake of recent gun violence in the city that includes shootings involving minors as perpetrators or victims. It also comes on the heels of 30 car thefts involving youth offenders. 

According to the draft ordinance, anyone younger than 18 would be prohibited from being in public in the city limits between 1 and 5 a.m. on weekends and midnight and 5 a.m. on weekdays. Braden said his proposal copies the youth curfew ordinance in force in Cumberland County, so as to avoid confusion. 

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Braden repeatedly referred to the ordinance as a “tool” to add to the city’s efforts to reduce the uptick in youth crime. 

“I understand that this is not going to be one tool that fixes all of the crime problems as they relate to juveniles within our community,” he said. “But it is a tool that would give us access to inquire as to what these kids are doing when they're out at 1 in the morning, out at 2 in the morning, walking some of these apartment complexes, these neighborhoods that have been plagued with some of these crimes.”

Council reaction

Council members Mario Benavente and Deno Hondros were adamantly opposed to the ordinance in its current state, and they both voted against adding it as a discussion item for Monday’s council meeting. It eventually was added to Monday’s agenda by a 7-2 vote, with Mayor Mitch Colvin not voting.

Hondros said the ordinance has the potential to escalate situations between juveniles and police officers. He said constituents reached out to him voicing concerns about the ordinance and that he himself sees it as a threat to the civil liberties of Fayetteville youths. He went so far as to compare it to policies of authoritarian states. 

“The officer comes up, and it's like you're asking for papers, license, registration, and then, ‘Why are you out — because you're not 18?’” Hondros said. “So, what, am I going to have a letter from my mother or my employer saying, ‘Well, he has a job, so he could be out?’ It sounds like communist Russia or Nazi Germany to me. It’s just crazy.”

Benavente expressed concerned about the ordinance’s potential for law enforcement misuse. 

“My greatest concern is that you’re going to use this as a chance to stop and frisk anyone who looks underage,” Benavente said.

Council member Courtney Banks-McLaughlin said she lost her daughter to gun violence and that she supports the ordinance as “one tool” to reduce the youth crime rate.  

“We may face some hiccups, but it's a start,” Banks-McLaughlin said. “As a mother who lost a daughter, ... I wouldn't wish this on anybody. And if it takes 10 kids to sit inside DSS, I would rather see that than to see a parent have to bury their children, I promise.”

Council member Shakeyla Ingram said she also has been personally affected by gun violence and thus supports the measure. 

“I don't want to see more people be impacted by the gun violence and the murders,” Ingram said. “We saw a 12-year-old in the company of adults murdered by retaliatory gun violence.”

Council member Kathy Jensen said she supports the measure for its life-saving potential during a time when kids have increased chances of being firearm victims. 

“As a mom that raised four boys, I will say to you, raising a young man in any city in any place in the United States in 2014 is a completely different ballgame than it is in 2023,” Jensen said. “And as a mom, I do not see how I cannot support this.”

Council member Brenda McNair said she had spoken with constituents about the ordinance, and some had concerns about child safety. She suggested the council hold a community forum about the issue before passing the ordinance. 

“When we ran our campaign, it was to listen to our citizens,” McNair said. 

Council member D.J. Haire said he had sent 50 emails to constituents asking for their thoughts on the ordinance. He said most of the responses he received were positive, and he believed a pilot program to test  the ordinance could be beneficial. 

“Not one tool in our toolbox is going to fix everything,” Haire said. 

Council member Derrick Thompson said it is important for the council to take any action to address youth crime. 

“For all those who have doubts or concerns or second thoughts, just take note that if nothing changes, nothing changes,” Thompson said. “So we need to do something to make sure we're keeping our youth protected and crime free.”

Mayor Pro Tem Johnny Dawkins facilitated the discussion and did not make any comments about the ordinance. He voted in favor of adding it as a matter of discussion at Monday’s council meeting. 

Mayor Colvin left the meeting because of a family emergency before the ordinance was discussed. 

Community response 

Here’s what CityView readers had to say about the ordinance in messages sent to talk@cityviewnc.com:

When we see young people out late at night, it can appear so obvious that they would be better off at home. Unfortunately, that is not a reality that can be taken for granted. In many instances home is not safe. Whether due to addiction, neglect or abuse, for some young people, the risks from a night on the street weigh less than the dangers at home. Any efforts to institute a curfew for young people must take this reality into consideration. While I'm certain that we all broadly agree that wandering the streets at midnight is no place for a young teenager, without providing alternative safe places for those young people to go, I cannot see how in good conscience we can criminalize their presence in the absence of any other wrongdoing. - Gerard

I think the curfew would be helpful. If a kid knows he shouldn’t be out after 1 a.m., then he should not be on the streets. He should be home sleeping for class the next day. Too much is happening in the early hours of the day while people are sleeping. Yes, we have had curfew before and it was not a big issue. What happened then? - Patricia

I think it's a bad idea, as officers are not gentle with adults. Now they are going to pick up kids. All I see is a child cursing them out, then running. Now the officer: big mad. Now, shots fired, shots fired? Next line, ‘I thought they had a gun.’ Also, now it opens the door to stop and question anyone as we all look about the same age up or down. Not to mention once kids hit the child system, those agencies will not give your child back. All of this will bring anger and mistrust toward the police and City Council, as well as burden struggling single parents with loss of work and court dates and fines. It will destroy the little bit of family that is left. It's a big no for me. - Erica

Cumberland County has had a Youth Protection Ordinance since the 1990s and while it is a tool rarely used by the Sheriff's Office to its fullest extent, i.e., charging parents for their kids' violations, it is highly effective in getting kids off the street at night. DSS involvement with kids who break curfew is essentially nonexistent. When the county enacted the ordinance, the population served by the Sheriff's Office was greater than the city, as this was years prior to the Big Bang Annexation. And while these identical discussions were had at the time by the county commissioners, none of the problems ever forecasted by the naysayers occurred. - John

Ample court decisions question the constitutionality of curfews. Numerous studies show no correlation between curfews and lowering crime. A bigger concern of the council and chief of police should be filling the ranks with highly trained officers and enforcing all existing laws and ordinances, including federal, in order to make it difficult for perpetrators to plan, coordinate and do crimes. - Timothy

Next steps

The council will continue discussing the ordinance at its next regular meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.  

Cumberland County has a youth curfew on the county level (not within town limits) that has been in place since 2015. Braden said the proposed ordinance copies the youth curfew ordinance for Cumberland Count to avoid confusion.

How it would work; what it says

A curfew applicable to juveniles or minors is established and shall be enforced as follows:

  • 1. Time limits for minors. It is unlawful for any minor under the age of 18 years to be or remain upon any establishment or public place in the city between 1 and 5 a.m. on Saturday or between 1 and 5 a.m. on Sunday, or between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.
  • 2. Time limits under 16. It is unlawful for any juvenile under the age of 16 years to be or remain upon any establishment or public place in the city between 11 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday and 6 a.m. the following day.
  • 3. Out-of-school suspensions time limit. It is unlawful for any juvenile or minor who has been suspended from school or has failed to attend school for any reason during regular school hours, who is not in the company of a parent or guardian, to be or remain upon any establishment or public place in the city between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on any school day.
  • 4. A parent or guardian of a juvenile or minor commits an offense if he/she knowingly permits, or by insufficient control allows, the juvenile or minor to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the city during the restricted hours. The term "knowingly" includes knowledge that a parent should reasonably be expected to have concerning the whereabouts of a juvenile or minor in that parent's legal custody. This requirement is intended to hold a neglectful or careless parent up to a reasonable community standard of parental responsibility through an objective test. It shall, therefore, be no defense that a parent was completely indifferent to the activities or conduct or whereabouts of such juvenile or minor.
  • 5. The owner, operator, or any employee of an establishment commits an offense if he/she knowingly allows a juvenile or minor to remain upon the premises of the establishment during the restricted hours. The term "knowingly" includes knowledge that an operator or employer should reasonably be expected to have concerning the patrons of an establishment. The standard for "knowingly" shall be applied through an objective test: whether a reasonable person in the operator's or employee's position should have known that the patron was a juvenile or minor in violation of this article.
  • 6. It shall be a violation of this article for any person 16 years of age or older to aid or abet a juvenile in the violation of subsection 2.
  • 7. It shall be a violation of this article for a parent or guardian to refuse to take custody during the restricted hours of a juvenile or minor for whom the parent or guardian is responsible.


Accompanied by his/her parent or guardian. 

  1. Accompanied by an adult 19 or older authorized by the parent or guardian of such juvenile or minor to take the parent's or guardian's place in accompanying the juvenile or minor for a designated period of time and purpose within an area specified by the juvenile's or minor's parent or guardian. 
  2. On an errand, using a direct route, at the direction of the juvenile's or minor's parent or guardian until the hour of 12:30 a.m. 
  3. In a motor vehicle with parental consent engaged in interstate travel through the city or originating or terminating in the city.
  4. Traveling in a motor vehicle with a parent or guardian or traveling in a motor vehicle with an adult 19 or older authorized by the parent or guardian of such juvenile or minor to take the parent or guardian's place in accompanying the juvenile or minor for a designated period of time and purpose within a specified area.
  5. Engaged in a lawful employment activity or using a direct route to or from a place of employment.
  6. Reacting or responding to an emergency.
  7. Attending or traveling to or from, by direct route, an official school, religious, or recreational activity that is supervised by adults and sponsored by a public or private school, the city or other governmental entity, a civic organization, or another similar entity that accepts responsibility for the juvenile or minor.
  8. Exercising First Amendment rights protected by the U.S. Constitution, such as the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of assembly.
  9. Married or emancipated.

Special permit

  1. When necessary nighttime activities of a juvenile or minor may be inadequately provided for by other provisions of this article, application may be made in writing to the chief of police or his designee either for a regulation as provided in subsection (b)(2) or for a "special permit," as the circumstances warrant. The application shall be in writing, signed by a juvenile or minor and by a parent of the juvenile or minor, if feasible, stating: (1) The name, age, and address of the juvenile or minor and the telephone number of a parent; (2) the height, weight, sex, color of eyes and hair, and other physical characteristics of the juvenile or minor; (3) the necessity that requires the juvenile or minor to remain upon a public place during the restricted hours; (4) the public place; and (5) the beginning and ending of the period of time involved by date and hour.

Upon receipt of the application, the chief of police or his designee may issue a written permit for the juvenile's or minor's use of the public place at such hours as, in the opinion of the chief of police, may be reasonable, necessary, and consistent with the purpose of this article.

  1. When authorized by regulation issued by the chief of police or his designee, establishing special permit exceptions (shall be established and are) to be handled as set forth in subsection (b)(1). Normally such regulation by the chief of police or his designee permitting use of public places should be issued sufficiently in advance to permit appropriate publicity through news media and through other agencies, such as the schools. It shall define the activity; the scope of the use of the public places permit; the period of time involved, not to extend more than one hour beyond the time for termination of the activity; and the reason for finding that the regulation is reasonably necessary and is consistent with the purposes of this article.
  2. For the denial of a special permit, the parent or guardian ad litem of the juvenile or minor may appeal within 30 days to any district court judge for de novo review.


  1. Before taking any enforcement action under this article, a law enforcement officer shall ask the apparent offender's age and reason for being in the public place or establishment during restricted hours.
  2. The law enforcement officer shall not prepare a juvenile arrest report, issue a citation, or make an arrest under this article unless the officer reasonably believes that an offense has occurred and that, based on any response and other circumstances, no exception or defense in section 17-34(c) is present.


It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection 17-34(B)(4) that the owner, operator, or employee of an establishment promptly notified law enforcement officers that a juvenile or minor was present on the premises of the establishment during the restricted hours and refused to leave.


  1. A juvenile who violates any provision of this article is subject to being adjudicated delinquent. The court may, in its discretion, impose any dispositional alternative(s) that are provided in the North Carolina Juvenile Code for any juvenile who is delinquent.
  2. Any person other than a juvenile who violates any provision of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $100 and imprisonment in the discretion of the court in accordance with NC General Statute 14-4.

 Contact Evey Weisblat at eweisblat@cityviewnc.com.

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curfew, Fayetteville, crime, city council, gun violence