If you decide to begin coaching children at a Lodi game without going through proper background checks, you could be arrested, under an ordinance approved Wednesday by the City Council.
All volunteer coaches must be fingerprinted, a way to perform background checks, but every once in a while parents or spectators try to bypass that process.
One time, a man had several violent felonies on his record, meaning that he could not coach, but he ignored city parks employees' requests to leave the field, Deputy City Attorney Janice Magdich told the City Council at their Wednesday night meeting. Since parks are public, that meant the man wasn't trespassing.
The council voted 4-0, with Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock absent, to pass the ordinance.
The coaching issue only came up with that one man, but sometimes parents get worked up and also try to start issuing orders on the field, Interim Parks and Recreation Director Steve Dutra said before Wednesday's meeting.
"We are a recreational operation, not a competitive operation. The children are out there to have a good time," he said, noting that children can also learn about teamwork and discipline along the way.
The ordinance gives police the authority to arrest or cite anyone who refuses to leave the field during an organized sporting event. Under the new law, only youth team members and approved volunteers will be allowed within 10 feet of the field of play.
Approved volunteers get an application through the Parks and Recreation Department and then get fingerprinted at either the parks office or the police station. The fingerprints are sent to California's Department of Justice, which checks the applicant's background. Results go to the city's Human Resources Department and are kept confidential, Dutra noted.
Ultimately, Dutra said, the goal is to keep youth games entertaining, and a bit educational.
"When you go and watch your children, your grandchildren or your neighbor's children, you go there with the expectation of having an enjoyable experience."