Youth curfew suggested

Published 11:24 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

GATESVILLE – Hearing strange voices outside your bedroom window is a definite cause for concern….at 5 a.m. takes it to an entirely different level of fright.

That’s what happened earlier this year to Lyda Webb of Gatesville and she’s now making a case for a curfew throughout Gates County.

Webb, the mother of retired Sheriff Ed Webb, revealed her harrowing story before the Gates County Board of Commissioners at their Nov. 20 meeting.

As part of the meeting’s agenda, Webb said she was nominated by several individuals in the community to express a collective concern about the problem of teens, and even adults, who are out walking the streets of Gatesville and along county roads in the wee hours of the morning.

“We are asking you, our board of commissioners, to give serious consideration and thought of establishing a curfew for the youth of Gates County,” Webb said.

She said over the course of the past six months there have been seven “serious incidents.”

“Of which, I was personally involved in one, and it wasn’t very pleasant,” Webb stressed.

She added that some of those incidents are under investigation by the Gates County Sheriff’s Office.

“If you come into the area of Gatesville on 37 north or south, or on highway 137 coming from Eure at almost any time of night it’s not uncommon to see youth walking the roads and walking the streets,” she said. “When they are approached by a vehicle, you know they’re up to no good because they’ll run and hide.”

Webb said those she has personally seen walking are dressed in dark-colored clothing.

“They are out in the unusual hours of the pm and more so the most unusual hours of the am,” she noted. “That’s a time when children, or even adults, should either be in their bed asleep or getting up to go to work.”

As far as her personal incident, Webb said it occurred between 5 and 5:30 a.m.

“What awakened me was the conversation I heard outside my bedroom window,” she shared. “I have a tiny dog, who was at the foot of my bed. The voices I heard caused him to wake up and he began to bark.”

Even more concerning for Webb is the fact that her yard is extremely well-lit.

“That did not stop them from entering my yard; they were in a well-lit area,” she said. “They were about four feet from my bedroom window. They were close enough that I could quote exactly what they said.

“The bad part about that is they were talking about they should have done something when they were there on Friday night,” Webb continued, adding the incident outside her window took place the following Monday morning.

Webb said establishing a curfew is something she believes will not be easy to accomplish.

‘But I have a lot of trust in the people sitting before me tonight (the commissioners) and I have a lot of trust in our county attorney,” she stated. “I personally feel there’s no one better to consult to get the recommendations of what to do than our county attorney.”

Webb stated that situations such as what she encountered goes back to “parental care.”

“The only way to find out if it’s good parental care or bad parental care, or even indifferent, is for a law to be passed that gives our law enforcement officers the opportunity to stop these people when they see them out walking at 4 o’clock in the morning and tell them they’re not supposed to be out at this hour,” Webb remarked. “Let those officers take them to the Sheriff’s Office or take them home….that way we can find out whether it’s the lack of or whether it’s not any (parental care) or if it’s a case of teenagers slipping out of their house.

“Right now the law enforcement officers’ hands are tied,” she continued. “I was told by the investigating officer who was at my house that there’s no ordinance in Gates County (to prevent such occurrences).”

She again asked the commissioners for their help, adding that the Town of Gatesville also does not have any type of curfew in place.

“I certainly do not want to see children/teens become prisoners in their own homes,” Webb stressed. “They should be allowed to play outside with their neighbors, but not at 2, 3, 4, 5 o’clock in the morning.”

“We appreciate you bringing this to our attention,” said Board Chair Linda Hofler. “We can certainly talk to our (board) attorney to see what options are available.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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