For the last 15 years, Sherman has had an ordinance in place to help make sure children are off the streets at a decent hour, and the Sherman City Council took steps to keep that ordinance in place when it renewed its youth curfew ordinance Monday night.
The ordinance, which was unchanged from its previous version, places a curfew on minors from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11:59 until 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The ordinance was first approved in 2004 and is required to be reinstated every three years.
“This is something that we have to revisit every couple of years,” Sherman Police Chief Zachary Flores said. “There are no amendments — no changes.”
Sherman police only issued 33 citations under the ordinance last year. The majority of the city’s enforcement comes in the form of verbal warnings, and a citation is only issued after repeated violations. Flores referred to the ordinance and citations as a last resort and not the first tool that officers have available.
There are no records of how many verbal warnings are given and there is a likelihood that some of the citations are for repeat offenders, Flores said. It is also difficult to track as not all juveniles who are found under the ordinance are given a citation, he added.
“The one thing we found is often times when juveniles are violating curfew, and we come across them, there is often a higher-level offense that is being committed,” he said. “They get in trouble for one thing, and we don’t want to keep adding tickets. We don’t want to do that.”
Council member Pam Howeth asked if there was a way to inform children and students about the ordinance in the school system.
“The people who really need to know about this are the students, the kids,” she said. “How do we get the information out there?”
Council Member Shawn Teamann lauded the police department for the ordinance, which he felt had enough room and exemptions for the situations in which a teenager may legitimately need to be out after hours. The ordinance allows for several exemptions including for minors who are accompanied by their parent, attending school or church events or who are working or travelling home from work.
“I read the ordinance, and I was curious to see what some of the exemptions were to the rule,” Teamann said. “There are a lot of exceptions for different items like if they are with the parents.”