March 27, 2015

Pasco considers tighter sex offender restrictions

3-27-15 Florida:

WESLEY CHAPEL — An ordinance proposed by Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore that would force sex offenders in the county to live 2,500 feet away from places where children typically congregate was briefly discussed during this week’s Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Under Florida law, those convicted of certain sex crimes against a child younger than 16 are not allowed to live within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, playgrounds or other places where children congregate.

Moore’s proposed ordinance would substantially expand the “buffer zone.”

Commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal during a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. April 21 at the West Pasco Government Center in New Port Richey.

Information on the proposed ordinance was provided to commissioners by Senior Assistant County Attorney Kristi Sims and Pasco sheriff’s Sgt. Zak Arey. The county attorney’s office and sheriff’s office have each recommended the ordinance be approved.

Similar measures were implemented in Miami-Dade County in 2010 and Lake County in 2012.

As of this week, 902 sex offenders are living in Pasco, including 101 sexual predators and six juvenile sexual offenders, according to the sheriff’s office.

At the sheriff’s office’s request, the proposed ordinance also regulates the conduct of sexual predators and sexual offenders on Halloween.

Under the proposal, registered sexual offenders would be prohibited from giving — or seeking to give — treats to children; the offenders must avoid all Halloween-related contact with children and leave all “outside residential lighting off after 5 p.m.” on Halloween.

Further, the proposal would prohibit registered sexual offenders from displaying Halloween-style decorations at their residences.

The proposed ordinance also would create a 300-foot “safety zone” when children are at schools and school bus stops, playgrounds, YMCA facilities, Boys & Girls Clubs, youth campgrounds, sports facilities and other areas.

Proposed expansions of the 1,000-foot law have been considered by several municipalities around the Tampa Bay area. Zephyrhills considered a 2,500-foot buffer in 2006 but decided against it, as did Tampa in 2008.

In 2010, the San Antonio City Commission adopted a 1,500-foot ordinance, practically making the entire small city off-limits to sex offenders. ..Source.. by GEOFF FOX

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