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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A week filled with crime ends in a local organization’s plea for an amended curfew.
Members of Macon-Bibb County’s NAACP are urging the mayor and sheriff to re-enforce the current curfew in place as well as make a few changes after two murders and several armed robberies this week.
An emotional NAACP President, Gwennette Westbrooks, spoke out Friday on an issue near and dear to her heart.
“We have to do something to get these kids off the street,” she said earlier this afternoon.
That issue is finding a solution to youth gun violence.
“What we’re all wanting to achieve here is having people who are unsupervised or who are into criminal and nefarious activities…we want those people off the streets,” said Bibb County Sheriff David Davis.
Westbrooks shared the tragic story of how she lost her brother to gun violence years ago in Macon–followed by a simple demand.
“The curfew needs to be put in place and it needs to be enforced,” she told 41NBC.
The current curfew for teens in Macon is midnight for those 16 and under. The amended one would move the time up to 10:00 pm and include teens under 18.
“The first offense is a warning the second offense, you are in court with your children and the parents will be fined. We need to enforce that so maybe our parents would know where their kids are,” Westbrooks said.
The NAACP is looking for support from the county and the sheriff’s office as well as parents.
“When you look at it on the surface of changing the time changing the age yeah that’s a good idea,” said Sheriff Davis.
Parents with children participating in the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office’s ‘Consider the Consequences’ program were in support of the idea when asked by Sheriff Davis on Friday.
“Come in and volunteer. We’ll supply the place if they would be interested to just volunteer and sit with these kids and interact with them,” Davis added.
As for crimes during the day, the sheriff’s office and Bibb County School District are working together on a task force to ensure kids where they need to be.
“We have a ‘truancy commission’ with the school system and one of my colonels sits on that board,” he explained.
They say they know it won’t be easy but they’ve already dealt with the hardest part–taking the first step to make a change.
The Bibb County School District issued this statement in response to concerns over whether enough was being done to promote attendance in school.
The Bibb County School District is working with various community partners to improve the lives and outcomes of students in our district, but we always welcome more community involvement and conversation on what else can be done to support students. Some of these partnerships include the School-Justice Partnership led by the District Attorney’s Office with various community partners; our Truancy Task Force that meets twice a month with the support of multiple community agencies to monitor student attendance and issue citations to parents; the Business Education Partnership that is focused on improving career and college opportunities available for students in Bibb County; social emotional learning training and de-escalation training for faculty and staff working with students; a partnership with River Edge Behavioral Health to work with students and train school staff; faith-based and non-profit community organizations that are partnering to provide one-on-one mentoring services at middle schools; a largely community funded and supported character education program known as The Leader in Me for all Bibb County schools; alternative education opportunities such as the Personalized Learning Center and Twilight that allow students to earn credits on their schedules in case they need to work to support their family during the day or catch up on credits they’ve missed; and virtual courses for parents through the VIP Parent University to increase parent engagement. This list is long, but it’s also just a sample of the partnerships formed and opportunities developed to support students. At the same time, we’re also working diligently to ensure our schools are safe and secure each day for anyone who enters. Partnering with the community is one of our district’s strategic objectives, and we look forward to the opportunity to continue to build relationships and partnerships with organizations in the community. It will take the whole village to improve the future for students in our community and we’re happy to see others stepping up to be a part of that support system.
Westbrooks says she didn’t contact Mayor Robert Reichert about the news conference Friday because she felt he “didn’t care” and had “brushed her off” before about community issues. However his office did issue a statement as well regarding the matter. It reads in full:
The recent spate of violence is more than concerning and disheartening, especially since it has been so concentrated with our youth. There is a curfew law already in Macon-Bibb that requires the cooperation of parents and law enforcement. I look forward to working with the NAACP one-on-one on solutions they believe will work.
We must – and by we I mean the entire community – get involved with our youth at every level. There are young men and women asking for mentors through the Mentors Project, Boys & Girls Club, and Big Brothers Big Sisters. You can tutor children through United Way and Communities in Schools. You can get involved with the many programs offered through our Recreation Department and the Sheriff’s Office.
Crime in our community doesn’t impact one family, one street, or one neighborhood. Every murder harms each of us, and I want to ask parents to help us by keep their children home at night. Make sure they are rested and ready for school the next day; only through education will they be prepared for a successful future.
If children are out after curfew, then I am in full support of the Sheriff’s Office enforcing that law. Parents need to realize that parents can be held responsible should their children be caught after curfew.
We must – not just law enforcement and the Commission – all work together to reach our youth and help them on a better path forward. It is up to each of us to help get them what they need.