Child safe zone ordinance gets a boost

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Registered sex offenders will be unable to be within 1,000 feet of the Denison public library and other places children frequent under a new ordinance.

In an effort to keep its younger residents safe, Denison is tightening and strengthening its Child Safety Zone ordinances to further restrict access by registered sex offenders.

The new ordinance bars registered sex offenders from being within 1,000 feet of locations that are classified as Child Safety Zones, which includes schools, child care facilities, parks, playgrounds and the Denison Public Library, among other locations where children are likely to congregate.

The amendment adds onto the city's existing ordinance, which was passed in 2009 and prevents offenders from living within 1,500 feet of these locations.

"What it does not cover is where registered sex offenders can frequent or hang out," Library Director Greg Mitchell said. "So this proposed ordinance is to expand the reach of the child safety zone, not geographically, but to restrict the activities, so they can not linger or congregate in the established child safety zone."

The idea for the expanded zone originated with Mitchell during recent efforts to ensure the library remains a safe place, City Manager Bobby Atteberry said. From there, other departments, including Parks and Recreation saw benefit from the proposed restrictions.

Atteberry said library services will still be available to offenders who will still be able to get a library card. However, they will be directed to online resources and curbside pick-up for books and other items. Monday's ordinance specifically includes an exception for the curbside service.

Other exceptions to the new ordinance include traveling through the zone for other purposes.