GRANDVIEW - Instead of passing a gang-specific ordinance as Sunnyside and Yakima have done, the Grandview City Council last night beefed up existing laws already on the books.
It's all part of a review of the city's entire code, explained City Administrator Scott Staples. The tougher laws passed last night are part of the city's Title 9 of the municipal code, relating to public peace, morals and welfare.
Staples encouraged council to revisit existing laws because County Prosecutor Ron Zirkle has said he thinks laws focusing on membership in a criminal gang would be difficult to prosecute.
As a result, the city's toughened stance focuses on "behavior, not "membership in a group," said Staples.
Some of the additional teeth in the revised laws council passed last night include a curfew and tougher penalties for gang-related crimes.
Police Chief Dave Charvet presented the proposed revisions to council during a study session on Sept. 17. At that meeting, Charvet called the beefed up laws a "pretty workable tool."
The curfew in the revised city code is designed to keep youngsters off the streets each morning from midnight to 5 a.m.
In addition it is now unlawful in the city of Grandview to leave children under the age of 12 alone in a car.
There are also revisions in the city code that impose harsher penalties for offenders who are known gang members. The new code, for example, requires a minimum of 30 days in jail for gang members convicted of participating in a fight.
Other new sections of Grandview's Title 9 address shopping cart theft, stalking-including harassment and intimidation-and graffiti.
The toughened penalty for graffiti and other acts of malicious mischief makes the crime a gross misdemeanor if the damage is $50 or more.
Grandview's toughened stance with its existing laws comes at a good time, council member Javier Rodriguez later noted.
"Sunnyside passed its gang ordinance and everyone knows Prosser is strict, so a lot of gang members are coming here," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully this (code revision) will help."