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Guest Editorial

Grandview has no gang ordinance

The following is a press release issued by the Grandview Police Department, in reference to last Tuesday's story in the Daily Sun News.

We have been receiving a number of phone calls from various news media with regard to a headline in a local newspaper that read "Court tosses Grandview's 'gang' law". This release is an attempt to clarify what has really taken place.

Please understand that the Grandview Municipal Code encompasses eighteen (18) different "Titles". The content of these titles ranges from General Provisions, Business, Streets, Buildings and Construction, Zoning, Environmental Protection, etc.

Title 9 of the Grandview Municipal Code deals with Public Peace, Morals and Welfare...essentially this is the city's "criminal statutes". Every few years it is prudent that a city review its Municipal Code for purposes of updating its content. In 2007, this process was begun-that is, a review of all 18 chapters of the Grandview Municipal Code that would be accomplished over a two-year period. In late 2007, Title 9 was the chapter that was reviewed and modified.

Firstly, the City of Grandview has never had a "Gang Law". During the course of code reviews within the Grandview Municipal Code, specifically Title 9, we focused primarily on behavior that one might characterize as gang-like. Sections were added to Title 9 that focused more specifically on crimes such as Harassment, Intimidation, or Disorderly Conduct type violations. This was not directed specifically at gangs, but rather could be utilized to criminally charge anyone who engaged in this conduct.

It is important to understand that 99.99 percent of Grandview Municipal Code Title 9 remains in full force and effect. The ONLY portion of Title 9 that was ruled unconstitutional was Section 9.32.100 (Fail to Supervise a Child). Essentially what we were attempting to accomplish with portions of this specific section was to hold parents at least partially accountable for the criminal actions of their minor children.

A court ruled that the Fail to Supervise a Child section was too broad or too ambiguous; i.e. open to different interpretations. In other words, we weren't specific enough. A number of parents had been cited into court using this code and once the ruling was made, all those citations had to be dismissed. The point specifically mentioned was subsection (7) making it unlawful for a parent to "Permit or allow a child to be truant".

I reiterate once again, the City of Grandview has never had in the past, does not have now, nor will it likely ever have, a "Gang Ordinance". It is inappropriate to say that our 'gang' law has been "tossed out" by any court.

You may access the Grandview Municipal Code on the City of Grandview's website, www.grandview.wa.us. Under Title 9, you will find section 9.32.100 Fail to Supervise a Child. That particular section is no longer currently enforceable. The rest of Title 9 remains intact as written.

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