April 26, 2017

Signs will warn sex offenders to stay off school grounds

4-26-17 Florida:

Law enforcement officials will soon visit the homes of 760 sex offenders and 85 sexual predators in Marion County as part of a new program aimed at reminding convicted sex offenders that they are forbidden to be on the property of schools and child care facilities.

As part of the program, which is being spearheaded by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, officials will place 180 warning signs at strategic locations on each of the school district’s 51 school campuses. The large signs, which will be 3 feet by 3 feet, will include the portion of sex crime statute 856.022(4)(b), which restricts the locations offenders can visit.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods appeared before the School Board on Tuesday to float the sign request. The School Board agreed that the signs should be placed at schools as preventative measure to keep children safe. The sign movement was not triggered by a local incident.

“I was excited to hear about the program,” School Board member Bobby James said. “This is an excellent idea and thanks for bringing it to us.”

The sign implementation is the brainchild of Chief Deputy Robert Douglas, who was Woods’ pick for his second-in-command. Douglas was named chief deputy after Woods took office in January.

Douglas worked for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years until 2003. Soon after losing to then-incumbent Sheriff Ed Dean in 2004, Douglas served 11 years as chief of police in Chiefland.

Douglas approached Levy County Sheriff Bobby McCallum several years ago about the idea. Both men appeared before the Levy County School Board, which agreed with the plan. Woods heard about the program and asked Douglas to create the same program in Marion. Douglas met with all of the county’s law enforcement agencies, the State Attorney’s Office and School Board member Bobby James. ..Continued.. by Joe Callahan

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