Marion Police Chief Tony Bufford addressed the mayor and council on Friday afternoon to ask for a city-wide curfew to be put in place.
The City of Marion has instituted a city-wide curfew starting today, Friday, Jan. 6 at 9:00 p.m. Marion Police Chief Tony Bufford requested the curfew at a called emergency meeting of Marion’s City Council held Friday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. The curfew was in response to two back-to-back homicides within the city over the past 24 hours. One occurred the night of Thursday, Jan. 5 and the second, apparently in retaliation, happened Friday morning, Jan. 6.
“We’ve had a couple of homicides take place within the city limits,” Bufford said in explaining why he was requesting the curfew. “We want the council and mayor and citizens to know that we’re working side by side with [Alabama Law Enforcement Agency]” to investigate the violence, he said. “We can’t give out any names because we don’t want to jeopardize the case,” he said.
He requested a temporary curfew that will start at 9:00 p.m. each night and go until 5:00 a.m. each morning. The curfew comes with a fine of $250.00.
The council took up Bufford’s recommendation, voting to implement a temporary curfew beginning that day and extending through Sunday, Jan. 15.
Bufford said the curfew would not affect people traveling for medical reasons, work, school, caregivers, those returning home from out of town, and other necessary travel.
“I’m talking about people hanging out, loitering, walking the streets,” Bufford said.
Councilmember Jeff Nail asked if the curfew would also mean that businesses would be required to close at 9:00 p.m.
“What about buying fuel? People need fuel to travel to work,” said City Clerk Laura Hinton.
Mayor Dexter Hinton said the curfew would be worded such as to only affect “nonessential businesses.”
Rev. Matthew Wilson, who is himself a city councilmember in Tuscaloosa, said he was concerned about the Police Department’s ability to enforce a curfew, and about how the curfew would be enforced fairly.
Bufford said the town’s six officers would be scheduled so that “we won’t have an officer on [duty] by himself,” by using rotating shifts. He said he had also asked for help from ALEA and would speak to the Perry County Sheriff’s Department about assisting with patrols in town during the coming days.
With regard to the enforcement of the curfew, Bufford said, “We’re not putting this in place to harass the citizens, by no means. We have some issues that we really need to deal with.”
When asked about how the city would notify the public, City Clerk Laura Hinton said the city was required by law to post notice at three locations. In this case, she said, notice would be posted at City Hall, the Perry County Courthouse, and the Marion Post Office. She said the city would also post an announcement to its Facebook page.
“These are unprecedented times,” said Mayor Dexter Hinton. “Every day is not sunshine. This is a rainy day for us right now. We are facing a whole lot of issues,” he said, mentioning fentanyl and drug abuse as other serious problems the city was facing. “You have guns being placed in the hands of individuals who are not thinking clearly. This is a rainy day for us but we’re hoping to see the sunshine. We’re not looking for it to rain every day.”
A roll-call vote of the council passed the curfew ordinance unanimously. Councilmembers discussed the possibility of re-visiting the extent of the curfew at their next meeting, which they also discussed today.
The council’s first scheduled January meeting was canceled, and their second one would have fallen on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Councilmembers voted to set a meeting for Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 6:00 p.m.