Police chief, residents speak out on curfew

Posted at 10:17 PM, Feb 27, 2023

ABBEVILLE, L.a. — A new police officer will be patrolling the streets of Abbeville according to police chief Mike Hardy in a special meeting held at City Hall Monday night. This is one of the approaches being taken in attempts to curb crime in the city amid a rash of shootings still under investigation.

Chief Hardy set a city-wide public safety curfew starting Saturday night, but questions are being raised about its legality, and whether he has the jurisdiction to do so when there isn't a state of emergency declaration in place.

This comes after incidents like Friday night where police said a shooting happened near a Family Dollar and hookah lounge on Veterans' Memorial Drive.

"It's pretty much a state of emergency because of the number of calls, Abbeville is a small town, 11,000 people," the chief said. "Our police department is 25 people total, you can't control multiple shootings every day, every night, and then such a big one like we had on the bypass and investigate this, and keep up with the evidence, and keep up with the manpower it takes to deal with this."

Talk of curfews, however, came even earlier as city council members discussed it during a town hall meeting Thursday night in light of previous area gun violence.

According to the Abbeville Code of Ordinances, the mayor or parish police jury president can issue a curfew. You can read it for yourself here.

Hardy maintains what he is doing is his responsibility and completely legal, and he says he will continue to work with the mayor and city council members to make sure it stays that way. He told KATC he hopes this curfew will stay in place until these shootings and other violent crimes in the area are at bay.

"They are advised of the curfew we have ongoing and are asked their name, age, address, phone number if they want to give it, birthday, and where they work," Hardy said. "This small infringement of anyone's rights is helping us tremendously."

KATC spoke with residents for their thoughts on the curfew moving forward.

Residents like 20-year-old mother and lifelong Abbeville resident, Zahkeriya Bell.

"You never know when someone may be having a bad day, I feel like a lot of African-Americans will be treated differently just because of the color of their skin," Bell said. "Like getting pulled over, questioning will be different, or the circumstances of getting pulled over will be different for them."

Another lifelong resident, who wished to remain anonymous, shared other thoughts.

"A curfew doesn't bother me, they have to do something," the resident told KATC. "They shouldn't be nervous, they should be safer getting to their house than people shooting around them while they're getting to their house and they get shot. I would think they should feel it's protection rather than infringement."

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