Breckenridge Texan

City commissioners to hold final reading on sex offender restrictions tonight

City commissioners to hold final reading on sex offender restrictions tonight
March 05
05:56 2019

At their meeting tonight, March 5, Breckenridge city commissioners will hold the second reading of a proposed ordinance establishing restrictions on where certain sex offenders can reside inside the city. It will also prohibit them from entering certain locations or areas within the city.

The ordinance was first presented at the city commission’s Feb. 5 meeting and unanimously approved by all commissioners present.

If Ordinance 19-02 is approved, convicted sex offenders who are required to register with the State of Texas as sex offenders will be prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of a Child Safety Zone, knowingly entering a Child Safety Zone or knowingly loitering on a public way within 300 feet of a Child Safety Zone. A sex offender will also be prohibited from leaving on a porch light on Oct. 30 or 31 between the hours of 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. or otherwise trying to invite trick-or-treaters to their premises.

Child safety zones defined under the ordinance include but are not limited to:

  • Public parks and playgrounds;
  • Private and public schools;
  • Public library;
  • Video arcades or other amusement arcades;
  • Indoor or outdoor amusement centers or amusement parks, or carnivals, circuses, fairs, or fair grounds;
  • Public, commercial and semi-private swimming pools and water parks;
  • Day care centers and nursery schools;
  • Public or private youth soccer, football, or baseball field;
  • Crisis center or shelter;
  • Skating park or rink;
  • Public or private youth center;
  • Movie theater;
  • Bowling alley;
  • Scouting facilities;
  • Any public or private group, location, or activity that regularly provides athletic, civic , or cultural activities that includes as participants or recipients persons who are 17 years of age or younger, including, but not limited to, Frontier Days, National Night Out, vacation Bible schools, and other public events held primarily for the benefit of children;
  • Offices for Child Protection Services.

Breckenridge Police Chief Larry Mahan told commissioners during the Feb. 5 city commission meeting that the ordinance will keep sex offenders from residing within or near certain areas of the community that are outlined in the ordinance. He said other towns in the area, such as Eastland, already have similar ordinances in effect.

“Basically, what we’re doing is we’re making it a violation for these people to move into these areas,” Mahan said.

At last month’s meeting, Mahan said Breckenridge has approximately 23 registered sex offenders already living within the city limits.  He said because the ordinance will not be retroactive, the city cannot make them move. However, he said, if they decide to move somewhere else in the city after the ordinance goes into effect, they cannot move into any of the areas prohibited by the new ordinance.

The City can’t make them move from where they are currently living, Mahan said. But, if they ever move, they will be restricted from living in certain areas.

“They can stay where they are now; we can’t go back retroactive and say, ‘Hey, there’s a new ordinance, you gotta move,’” he said.

But, he explained, if they move in out of their current residence and want to move to a different location, they can’t move to any place within the restricted areas.

After the ordinance takes effect, any convicted sex offender (who is required to register with the State of Texas as a sex offender) who moves into the city will be required to abide by the restrictions on where they live in the city.

According to Mahan, a violation under the ordinance could result in a $500 fine and possibly a $500 fine for every day the sex offender is in violation of the ordinance.

Breckenridge City Manager Andy McCuistion said the city decided to adopt a city sex offender ordinance after receiving feedback that the district attorney would be able to prosecute cases better if there was a local city ordinance in place. He said they then looked at other cities that already have one in place for a model and tweaked it for Breckenridge.

McCuistion said if the ordinance is passed again at Tuesday’s meeting, it will be published in the local newspaper and then go into effect five days after that.

“It’s just protection; our number one thing is just to protect the kids,” Mahan said.

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge City Manager Andy McCuistion talks to the city commissioners at the February meeting. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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