The Mason City City Council gave final approval last night to an ordinance that bans "serious sex offenders" from parks, playgrounds, school bus stops and other public places. It expands on the state law that prohibits registered sex offenders from -living- within 2,000 feet of many public places, including schools and day care centers.
Some concern was shown by citizens that people could still live within yards of a bus stop and not be affected by the ordinance, but citizens committee member Candi Schickel, the wife of Republican state representative Bill Schickel, says serious offenders would be restricted totally from such areas.
Schickel says: "We feel we did address it and in a more effective way than the 2,000 foot law. We are actually including city parks in our exclusionary zones. It lists city-owned sports complexes and parks, playgrounds, tennis courts, state parks, municipal pool, city/school bus stops…and our ordinance would ban any offender who’s rated medium-risk or high-risk, from going into those areas."
Schickel says it’s easier for law enforcement to enforce the restrictions by setting them by where an offender goes, not by where they live. "If they live in that neighborhood and they’re rated those ratings, they can’t go to the park under this ordinance, " She says, "we dealt with this issue because everyone wanted to know was the 2,000 foot residency restriction effective."
She says many officials they’d talked with said the restriction does -not- work as it’s not where an offender lives, it’s where they go that’s important. Schickel says there has been a call by law enforcement and county attorneys to repeal the state law and enact laws such as the Mason City ordinance in its place.
The measure passed last night on its final reading by a five-to-one vote, with councilman Max Weaver voting against the ordinance.