Concerns over social media, teen curfew raised in August council meeting
CUMBY- Cumby citizens and council members expressed concerns with Cumby PD policing methods at the regular August city council on Tuesday.
During the old business portion of the council meeting, council member Betty McCarter addressed her concern that allegedly with the passage of the city’s social media policy during the July regular council meeting, the city of Cumby police Facebook page had been deleted.
Council member Julie Isham Morris stated she would like to know why the page was deleted.
“I thought it was open to the citizens,” Morris said.
Mayor Doug Simmerman acknowledged that Cumby police chief Paul Robertson deleted the Facebook page, and stated he believed the deletion of the page was “to eliminate any problems with the social media policy."
Content of the Cumby police Facebook page is mainly focused on sharing news stories related to Cumby police arrests and other arrests throughout Hopkins County and Texas, with more recent posts focused on sharing political content regarding Black Lives Matter protests occurring across the country, according to archived posts.
“It’s considered a public forum,” McCarter opined. “If we want to shut it down, we can put on the page ‘we no longer use this,’ but just to delete it, it’s considered a public forum.”
Simmerman instructed Robertson to “put it [Facebook page] back up, Paul.”
Council members also expressed concern with a proposed curfew ordinance for minors, which appeared on the August 11 agenda.
Much like Sulphur Springs’ January 2020 curfew ordinance, Cumby’s 2012 curfew ordinance was passed with a sunset clause, meaning the ordinance naturally expires every three years, according to the text of the ordinance. Without renewal, the ordinance is not in effect-- and no documents support that the 2015 Cumby council renewed a teen curfew.
However, according to McCarter, despite the fact that no teen curfew has been in effect for the past five years, she located four outstanding tickets for violation of curfew on the books for 2020.
“How can we have curfew violation if the ordinance went out in ‘15?” McCarter asked. “Are they open, pending cases? For something to be pending after five years would be crazy.”
Simmerman told McCarter she would “be surprised what we’ve got over there on the court side.”
McCarter stated that unless the four curfew tickets were written on or before 2015, they are not valid and whomever they are written to should not have to pay fees or fines.
“Let me tell you, we’ve seen some crazier things,” Simmerman stated. City attorney Jay Garrett stated he would find out when the tickets were written and tell McCarter at the next council meeting.
Furthermore, council members weighed in, they did not believe in reinstating a curfew ordinance in 2020.
Although the city has had a problem with vandalism at Black Jack Grove Park, city council member Guy Butler pointed out that the park closes at 10 p.m. and breaking park closing rules and engaging in vandalism would result in charges regardless.
“If someone is tearing something up, vandalizing, that’s a crime in itself,” Butler said. “You don’t have to have an ordinance to go after somebody for vandalism.”
Robertson told the council he believed there was a problem with youth out after 11 p.m.
Citizen Ryan Horne said he believed there was not.
“I have a daughter and sometimes we’ll take her and her friends out to play hide-and-seek past 11 p.m. The government is trying to put another restriction on us… the bathroom is something that needs to be addressed separately, not a citywide curfew,” Horne stated.
“I want to make sure the city isn’t proposing another ordinance that is unneeded and unjust,” Horne said. “Our police force, if it’s that big of an issue, maybe they need to be patrolling the park versus sitting on the interstate all night long.”
Citizen Sheryl Lackey stated she agreed with Horne, stating that birth of the ordinance in 2009 was “a different time,” and that 2020 did not reflect the current teen population’s behavior.
“I don’t think government as a whole should dictate to me how I’m going to raise my child,” Lackey said.
Simmerman maintained that law enforcement “is making rounds by the park.”
The council did not move forward with a curfew ordinance for 2020.
Simmerman congratulated Cumby PD during the council meeting on their recent arrest of a 25-year-old Memphis, Tenn. man at the Cumby city limits at 1:20 p.m. last Thursday. The arrest resulted in the seizure and later possession by the Cumby PD of $60,000 in cash and a SIG .40 caliber handgun.
The total funds now in the Cumby PD seizure account for the arrest stand at $60,520, Simmerman said.
"It was a good arrest," Simmerman noted.