East Spencer tables crime-deterrent curfew during COVID-19 crisis

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, April 7, 2020

By Shavonne Potts

EAST SPENCER — Town Police Chief Sharon Hovis had hoped the town board would adopt a town curfew for youth and adults to deter late-night crime during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, but the board on Monday decided to table the matter to a future meeting.

Hovis said she was aware the town had discussed a juvenile curfew some years ago, but she could not find an official decree or record that one was enacted.

The city of Lexington has a public safety curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., and Hovis said that was implemented before Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order. Hovis told the board an East Spencer curfew would exempt those who were traveling for food, medical needs and to other necessary places like pharmacies. The curfew would’ve included longer hours on the weekend, Hovis said.

If East Spencer does approve a curfew, it would be the first known town in Rowan County to establish a curfew amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In her proposal, however, Hovis said, the curfew would’ve been extended beyond the conclusion of the COVID-19 crisis. Had the town board approved a curfew, East Spencer residents would need to follow them because Cooper said when he enacted his order that residents should follow the stricter restrictions.

If the town implements it, violating the curfew could result in a $500 fine. It would be a misdemeanor offense.

Town attorney Jeff Morris said if the town needs to implement a crime-control curfew, then he would rather talk with the town administrator and mayor to see what limits they would have to consider.

In order to be compliant with the governor’s executive order, part of the board met in Town Hall and two others met by conference call. The members in attendance at were Aldermen Curtis Cowan, Albert Smith and John Noble. Mallett was also at Town Hall. Alderwoman Deloris High and Alderman Tony Hillian were dialed into a conference call.

Morris and Bennett said the four who met in Town Hall qualified as a quorum.

The board on Monday also approved a fair housing plan and a request for proposals for grant administration services. The town was awarded a $750,000 grant by the North Carolina Department of Commerce — Rural Economic Development Division for park improvements and rehabilitation.

There needs an administrator to assist the town in the management of this project.