Conyers Police stepping up curfew enforcement

CONYERS — The Conyers Police Department is taking steps to make sure parents who drop off their teenagers at a local movie theater are held accountable under the city’s curfew ordinance.

CPD Public Information Officer Kim Lucas said the department is stepping up enforcement of the curfew due to problems experienced in the parking lot at Conyers Crossing shopping center on Dogwood Drive, where the Carmike 16 theater is located.

“Typically in the summertime, over spring break, or any time kids are out of school, crime tends to pick up because they are out of school and on the street,” said Lucas. “What we have discovered, and what this ordinance is really meant for, is holding the parents responsible when, for example, they drop their kids off at Carmike for a two-hour movie and end up leaving them there for hours and hours.”

Lucas explained that the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office controls security inside the movie theater and in the parking lot immediately outside the theater. Their job, she said, is to move kids who aren’t there to see a movie out of the theater lobby and parking lot.

The result is that they congregate in other parts of the shopping center, said Lucas, which has led to fights, vandalism, and even some robberies. Lucas noted that CPD has had complaints from other businesses in the shopping center about the groups of teens.

The department’s focus, she said, is to make parents aware that the ordinance is being enforced and that parents — not their children — will be cited for violations. The city curfew for teenagers 16 years of age or younger is 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, with some exceptions.

Lucas said when teens are found to be out past curfew their parent or guardian will be called to come pick them up and the parents will be cited for the curfew violation. The maximum fine for a curfew violation is $1,000, Lucas said, but fines of $200 to $400 are more common.

Lucas said parents sometimes aren’t aware that Conyers has a curfew for teens.

“We don’t want to write a bunch of citations; we just want the parents to be aware,” she said.

Lucas said CPD has been working to enforce the curfew every weekend in July when crowds of teens typically gather.

She said there are some concerns that gang activity is involved.

“Not only are these Conyers and Rockdale County residents, they come from other counties and other schools, rivalry schools, which means rivalry groups and could be rivalry gangs,” Lucas said.

Conyers’ curfew ordinance was passed by the City Council in April 2011. Under the ordinance, children 16 years old and younger are prohibited from being in public places — whether indoors or outdoors — between 9:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Curfew hours on Friday and Saturday are 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Minors who are in public during curfew hours must be under adult supervision and in the adult’s physical presence. Public places include playgrounds, roads, eating establishments and places of amusement.