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Getting the Needle

"Tell the truth. The thought of some stranger electrically carving colored designs on your underage child makes you cringe. Not that it keeps you up nights. Still, you don’t want to see your kid come home with a snarling dragon permanently engraved on his or her back.To lessen the likelihood of this parental nightmare from coming true, the city of Port Orchard is already crafting an ordinance requiring tattoo parlors to check for valid ID. If approved, the ordinance would echo a measure already passed by the Legislature in 1996. “I think it’s a very good idea to tighten regulations,” said Angelique Haire. “Although, we already check ID routinely, anyway.” Haire has owned and operated Electric Crayons, a tattoo parlor located near Ross Point on State Route 166, since 1997. Hers is the only tattoo parlor located within city limits, and thus the only business potentially affected by the proposed tattoo measure.City Councilman Tom Stansbery, chairman of the Public Safety and Justice Committee, spearheaded the effort earlier this summer. During regular meetings with police, Stansbery said he discovered that “a tattoo parlor within the city” had given an underage patron a tattoo.“We had a lady call us a while back saying her underage daughter received a tattoo at this place located in the city,” confirmed acting police chief David Loflin. He couldn’t say whether the girl had furnished the parlorwith fake ID. Passing the ordinance would give police a tool to enforce state law, Loflin noted. Plus, according to Stansbery, such an ordinance would reflect the city’s dedication to following and enforcing state law.According to Greg Hubbard, a deputy prosecutor for Kitsap County, state law dictates that giving an underage client a tattoo is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. But before a guilty verdict is meted out, the state must prove the tattooist didn’t make a good faith effort to check ID. Put another way, a tattooist could argue they were duped by a false ID.Haire said she and her employees at Electric Crayons religiously check ID. Still, she said they can’t be held accountable for kids who bring in fake IDs or fake parental guardians.“We check IDs, but kids can sure be sneaky about it,” she said. “We’ve had customers bring in fake IDs. One was pretty obvious that it was a homemade job. The plastic was obviously melted and then glued back together. The other we didn’t catch until an angry mother called us. She called back and apologized when she found the fake ID.” Imagination INK-ED owner Jim Runge said it’s hogwash to say fake IDs are tricky.“You should be able to tell,” he said. “There are things to look out for.”Washington driver’s licenses contain holograms behind the plastic sealant, indicating their authenticity, he noted. “Though my tattoo shop is in the county and this ordinance, if passed, wouldn’t directly affect me, I think in general it’s a good idea,” Runge said.Haire is convinced the ordinance wouldn’t affect her business down the road.“We already have signs up saying you need to be 18,” Haire explained. “If you aren’t 18, then we say you need permission from a parent or guardian or you need to wait until you turn 18. We may put up another sign saying if you don’t look 35, we’ll card you.”Stansbery said the ordinance concept is still in the works, and the Public Safety and Justice Committee plans to meet several times on the matter."

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