Its ano-brainer, said Bill Mackin, a supporter of Reynoldsburgs proposed daytime curfew ordinance for minors.
Catrina Neumann called the ordinancemisguided and said it would make every young person in Reynoldsburg a suspect between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Since the controversial issue was first broached during the June 7 safety committee meeting, residents have descended on city hall to share their thoughts.
The ordinance, which is modeled after a similar existing law in Columbus, is designed to keep juveniles off the street during school hours with the hope of decreasing crime.
Reynoldsburg Police Department Officer Katherine Mielke, a resource officer at Reynoldsburg High School, suggested the idea through the appropriate chain of command in response to the increase in juvenile problems surrounding the junior high and high schools.
During the June 21 safety committee meeting, Mielke explained that there were 125 burglaries in Reynoldsburg between the beginning and the end of the school year, excluding holiday breaks and weekends.
Of those, 72 burglaries occurred during school hours between 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., she said.
Mielke added that 15 of those burglaries were solved and that nine of them involved juveniles that should have been in school or were suspended or expelled.
Under Reynoldsburgs current truancy law, Mielke explained that an officer can talk to a child at anytime because of existing truancy ordinances, but if the child provides any legitimate excuse in regard to truancy, there is nothing the police officer can do.
City Attorney Jed Hood said what this ordinance seeks to do is target those suspended or expelled juveniles or any other juveniles without a legitimate excuse who are on the streets during school hours.
Some parents are concerned that children who are either home-schooled or attend online school and are legally permitted to be on the street because of the flexibility of their schedules would be restricted unfairly.
Hood said the law would not target those students that have already fulfilled their obligations.
He added that the law does already state that, but because of the concern and in an effort to get the legislation passed, he suggested earlier this month that it be more clearly defined.
Under the proposed ordinance, a juvenile can be stopped during school hours and questioned. If it is determined that the juvenile does not have a legitimate excuse for being on the street, he or she will be picked up, cited and the parents would be notified, Mielke said.
At that point the parent can pick the child up or if the parent is not able or does not want to pick the child up, the child would be taken to Franklin County Children Services, she said.
Because this is classified as an unruly offense, the child would not be taken to jail over a single violation, she said.
It has not yet been determined what would happen in the event of multiple offenses, Hood said.
Lt. Bob Meader of the Columbus Police Department said in Columbus, the child is charged after the third offense and would have to go to court at some point down the road.
Meader explained that in Columbus, because it is an unruly charge, the truants are never taken to jail no matter how many times they are captured.
Since the institution of the citys school attendance law, Columbus has seen a significant decrease in burglaries and malicious crimes, Meader said.
It began as an experiment in his zone, and became so successful that it is now in effect city-wide, he said.
“I did not have a crystal ball that worked, Meader said.But if did, it wouldnt have told me what wed have experienced over the past three years, and that is an incredible decrease in property crime.
Meader said the city compared statistics on malicious destruction of property, theft from auto and burglaries between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. excluding weekends and holidays. The data was compared to the 2005-2006 school year, the last year that the law was not in effect.
“Our first full year of truancy enforcement, ‘07-‘08, those three crimes dropped 22 percent, Meader said.The second year, comparing the 05-06 to the 08-09 school year, we were down 30 percent. Comparing the 05-06 school year to the 09-10 school year, we were down 43 percent, which is obviously just less than half of the property crime we had in 05-06.
Hood said those statistics speak volumes.
“If we can get anything close to the results Columbus is getting, a 43 percent reduction, I dont understand why anyone would be against this, Hood said.
However, residents like Jor-El Godsey feel that if repeat truants or suspended or expelled students are the problem, then the current truancy laws should be tightened up to focus on those individuals rather than innocent, law-abiding citizens becoming a target.
The ordinance is being held at the request of Councilman Chris Long until the July 6 committee meeting. Chairman Mel Clemens was not present.