New Juvenile Judge Pledges Action On Curfew, Truancy Problems

Monday, June 24, 2013
Rob Philyaw
Rob Philyaw

The new judge in Juvenile Court on Monday said little to nothing is currently being done on Chattanooga youth curfews or truancy, but he aims to spark some action.

He said curfew enforcement "is non-existant," and he said the situation is about the same on dealing with truancy.

  Rob Philyaw told members of the Pachyderm Club that Chattanooga has a poor curfew law and it is not enforced. He said after there were issues about youths roaming Coolidge Park at late hours, a special area was set up in North Chattanooga to take those caught for curfew violations. He said the center closed because no one was ever brought there.

Judge Philyaw said virtually nothing is being done here about dealing with the truancy issue, except for the filing of some cases in May - when school is about over. He said the number of truancy cases brought to the court last year from Howard High School was zero.

He said, "This is not about getting little Johnny to bed on time. It's about the safety of these kids and the safety of the community."

Judge Philyaw said he found that the current city curfew ordinance was so inadequate that he took part in an effort to rewrite it. He said it currently is one paragraph and the proposed version is a page and a half. He said he has presented the draft to Mayor Andy Berke.

The speaker said the current curfew ordinance "was lacking a lot," and the rewrite "is a good draft for the mayor and City Council to consider." 

He said he has identified a section of the Juvenile Court site on East Third Street where curfew violators could possibly be taken.

He said when underage kids are out in groups in the early hours of the morning they are often in danger themselves or may be a threat to endanger others.

The judge, who replaced Suzanne Bailey when she retired, said older Chattanooga gang members with felony records often utilize very young kids to wield weapons for them. He said they do not want to be caught themselves with the guns.

He said the court is taking several initiatives to deal with curfew and truancy issues and is being aided by prosecutor Boyd Patterson, the former gang task force leader who has been assigned by District Attorney Bill Cox mainly to Juvenile Court.

On whether action can be taken against parents of curfew violators and truants, he said options are limited, but they may be found in contempt of court.

He said he understands why officers who have to deal with very serious crimes are reluctant to spend time on curfew violations, but he indicated he will seek more help from the police. He also said he plans to meet with School Supt. Rick Smith on dealing with the truancy problem.

Judge Philyaw said the Juvenile Detention Center on Third Street is designed to hold 25 youthful offenders, but had 34 last Thursday. He said those included 13 who had guns, two charged with carjacking, three accused of aggravated robbery and three (ages 12, 13 and 16) charged with attempted first-degree murder.

He said they may be commiting adult crimes, "but I see kids when I look in their faces."  




    


Concurrent Grand Jury Calls For New Vocational Schools, Adding 4th Criminal Court Judge

Members of the Hamilton County Concurrent Grand Jury are recommending reopening of trade and vocational schools in high school education. A final report from the panel headed by Jimmy Anderson says the trade schools would "provide training and develop skills for productive workforce employment beyond minimum wage jobs that are not adequate to sustain an individual trying to ... (click for more)

City Council Approves Data Arrangement For Sewer Bills With California Firm

The City Council on Tuesday agreed to pay a California firm $120,000 on a one-year contract to aid helping interpret data from the water company for use in sewer bills. Enco is the same firm that formerly handled the sewer billing for the city and drew a host of complaints. The city in 2015 cut ties with Enco and began issuing the sewer bills itself. However, Finance Director ... (click for more)

City Officials Should Tour Our Roads - And Response (2)

As we near the election in March, now would be a good time for our city officials who are up for re-election to spend a little time exploring their realm.   I would invite them to take a scenic tour starting at Lake Resort Drive paying attention to the portion of the road which was recently repaired which now appears to be sliding back towards the lake again.  Follow ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Puzzling Women

After Rhonda Thurman left the “Enlightment” meeting of the Hamilton Country School Board Saturday afternoon, she must have been catching up on the news when she posted this message on her Facebook page: “I am really trying to understand. I am a woman and I cannot think of one "RIGHT" I do not have. Can someone enlighten me?” Not one person enlightened Rhonda because nobody could ... (click for more)

Big McClendon Curtis Leads Central Past Hixson

Central coach Rick Rogers knew this would be a long season for his Purple Pounder basketball team after his top seven players graduated last year. He’s exactly right, but things are headed in the right direction for Rogers as his team improved to 5-10 overall and 3-6 in District 6-AA with a heart-stopping one-point win at Hixson Monday night. That’s two wins in a row and the ... (click for more)

Cleveland, Bradley Central No. 1 And No. 2 In State Wrestling Poll

Now in its 25th year, The Poll is primarily a measure of  dual meet strength  with some consideration to individual tournament strength.   Votes are cast by a state-wide panel of high school wrestling coaches and are based on a maximum Power Ranking of 100%.   STATE POLL:   RANK ... (click for more)