Deer Park parents who let their children roam city streets at night will soon be getting hit in the pocketbook.
“We wanted to put the responsibility back where it belongs - on the parents,” said Mayor Bob Dano.
At a meeting last month the Deer Park City Council approved a teen curfew ordinance that prohibits youths 17 and younger from being in public after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and after midnight Friday and Saturday.
If caught by Spokane County sheriff’s deputies, youths will be taken home or to the house of an extended family member or “responsible adult.”
Parents would receive a warning for the first offense and up to a $25 fine for the second violation of the ordinance. Each additional violation would carry a fine between $50 and $300, which would be left to a judge’s discretion.
Exceptions are granted for youths attending school, church or community events.
Dano expects some complaints from parents, but he hopes the ordinance sends a message.
“If I were a parent, it would wake me up a little bit that we have a problem on our hands,” said Dano.
The curfew is a result of concerns over increased park vandalism and car prowlings.
“We feel it’s the kids,” said Deputy Tom Warner, who is stationed in Deer Park.
Deputies are not yet enforcing the policy because the sheriff has not developed guidelines on some sticky points, including what defines a responsible adult and how to verify if a youth is eligible for exemption.
Dano said the city was leaving some elements of enforcement up to deputies but was comfortable with it.
The council has been considering changes for almost three years, since Sheriff John Goldman told Deer Park officials that the city’s original teen curfew was unenforceable.