By: Bridget Varley
CHATTANOOGA, TN (UTC/ The Loop) – Chattanooga has recently altered the hours a minor can be in the ever popular Northshore area during the evenings.
The city council of Chattanooga voted 7- 2 on a rule restricting minors that are not accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or adult 21 and older from being in Coolidge Park from the hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The decision was made after several incidents in the park involving with minors have occurred. Last March, an arrest of five young people in a shooting incident left some shot in the legs and three arrested.
The most recent happened just a few weeks ago. On March 19, police responded to a call where 300 teenagers were present in the park while shots were fired. Sgt. Rick Mincy told the Chattanooga Times Free Press “unsupervised teens hang out in the park often.”
Cliff Hightower in his March 29th article of The Times Free Press wrote, “The obvious goal is to reduce delinquency and restore the confidence of local residents and tourists, so they may visit the park without fear that violence will break out.”
Though some believe the hour and age restriction will improve the safety in the park, Council member Russell Gilbert feels that if one park is instating these rules the rest should as well.
Mayor Littlefield said that because Chattanooga is about to enter into the season where events take place each weekend at the park a message needs to be sent to parents to be responsible for their children.
If underage individuals are found in the park past the posted hours Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd said it would be the “officer’s discretion” on whether a minor is picked up and taken to the juvenile detention facility. If the minors are found in the park the officer can take them to a holding center in St. Elmo where they can eat and hang out until their parents come to get them. Officers Vinson and Moody said that they do not really agree with rule because if underage children are causing trouble in one place they will do it in another. Listen to the Council’s decision
According to the Times Free Press if the minors do not seem to be doing anything wrong it is unlikely that police will approach them. However, because of some teenagers causing issues in Coolidge all of those under 21 are receiving the punishment.