City of Orange outlines new curfew rules for juveniles

Published 12:18 am Thursday, March 16, 2023

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After two public hearings, the first held Feb. 14 and the second March 14, Orange adopted a curfew for minors within the city limits.

Effective this week, parents, guardians and owners, operators and employees of establishments in Orange, may face penalties if found to be in violation of the ordinance that requires minors below the age of 17  be inside between 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weeknights and midnight to 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

The re-adoption of the citywide policy received widespread support from elected officials, city staff and members of the public; many who voiced concern for juvenile safety.

During the public hearing, Police Chief Lane Martin detailed the reasons for the ordinance.

“We’ve had this for many years, and I will say this: Our contacts with juveniles after hours has greatly declined over the years,” he said. “This is an ordinance that we don’t have to use very much anymore. We often ask for compliance prior to issuing a citation. We have not issued any citations over the last three years.”

If found in violation of the ordinance, penalties may include a fine of up to $500.

In response to a request for comment, the Orange NAACP chapter voiced support for the curfew.

President John Jefferson looks forward to equal enforcement of the curfew and the benefits to juvenile safety that would accompany its re-adoption.

“I don’t see a problem with a curfew,” he said. “I think it will be a good thing to do. I don’t think students should be out that late anyway. I hate riding down the street to see young kids hanging out at stores. I feel like there is a need for a type of control but once you’re an adult there doesn’t need to be a curfew.”

During the Feb. 14 public meeting, Mayor Larry Spears Jr. responded to citizens requesting a curfew that included those aged 17-19.

He noted the ordinance only applies to those 16 and younger and reaffirmed adults may be outside of their homes “all night long,” if they choose.

While the curfew is effective March 14, 2023, proposed state legislation may supersede it. If adopted, Senate Bill 603 would repeal the authority of political subdivisions to adopt or enforce juvenile curfews.

In advance of possible passage of the bill, some Texas cities and municipalities have decided to rescind their juvenile curfews.

According to Martin, Orange’s juvenile curfew is needed.

During the first public hearing, Martin characterized the curfew as a tool used by law enforcement officers to protect minors within the city.

Barring the passage of Texas state law revoking city authority to mandate a curfew, the curfew would remain in effect in Orange until 2026, at which time the city may let the curfew lapse or add it to the City of Orange Council agenda for reconsideration.

— Written by Shari D Hardin