No more risky business in Sammamish?

April 24, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: April 24, 10:14 a.m.

Parents may be on the hook if their children host a party and minors drink under a new regulation.

During the April 14 Sammamish City Council meeting, Councilman Tom Odell broached the topic with the rest of the council. Odell sat on a group called the IDEA committee. The group was formed after former Sammamish police Sgt. Jessica Sullivan noticed that roughly 40 percent of DUI incidents in Sammamish involve minors.

The group has been discussing ways to combat underage drinking in the city in general. Odell called for the council to hear a report from the group about its activities.

He also suggested a new ordinance based on one that Mercer Island put in place in late 2011. Under those regulations, parents can be fined if minors are found drinking at their home – even if the parents were out-of-town or otherwise unaware.

While the council discussed the idea in broad terms, no ordinance has yet been introduced.

Councilman Ramiro Valderrama suggested that such ordinances are not unheard of in other parts of the country.

“This is nothing new,” he said.

Valderrama wanted to push to get an ordinance in place soon, in time for prom and graduation season, which is coming up quickly.

However, the council does not have sufficient time to write and pass such a law in time for this year, noted City Manager Ben Yazici.

The council seemed generally warm to the concept, but owing to other pressing matters, it isn’t likely to tackle it very soon.

Odell suggested the idea during a broader discussion of police services in the city.

Assistant City Manager Laura Philpot gave a presentation summarizing police activity last year. Calls for service were down in 2013 to fewer than 4,000, compared to more than 4,200 in 2012. Burglary, assault, theft and fraud cases were all down in 2013.

Traffic stops continued to be a major focus for Sammamish officers. In 2013, they made 4,058 stops, Philpot said, and issued 3,191 tickets. Of the tickets issued, 1,460 were for speeding. There were 48 DUI incidents last year.

Philpot drew attention to the 143 citations issued for driving while using a cell phone in 2013. She said she expects that number to rise sharply this year, since police in Sammamish and around the state are stepping up enforcement of the ban.

Philpot also noted that response times have decreased across all types of priority calls, which she attributed to the leadership of Police Chief Nate Elledge and his team.

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