EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSSEX OFFENDER ORDINANCE
from Eyewitness News Online
Hurricane Adopts Ordinance Banning Sex Offenders From Child Safety Zones
Reported by: Kristin Keeling
Videographer: Brad Rice
Web Producer: Kristin Keeling
Reported: Feb. 10, 2012 6:58 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 10, 2012 7:17 PM EST
Hurricane , Putnam County , West Virginia
Kids love playgrounds, pools, and parks. But in Hurricane, there were more than just kids hanging around.
Mayor Scott Edwards says his officers are complaining that registered sex offenders are going to parks and pools, taking out binoculars...sitting...and waiting.
"I said let me get this straight. A sex offender can drive up to the Valley Park Wave Pool or the Hurricane City Park...take out his binoculars and watch kids who are fifty feet away. He says it happens all the time," said Mayor of Hurricane, Scott Edwards.
According to the State Police website, 28 sex offenders live in Hurricane. Police know who they are, but there's not much they can do.
"Our officers would just sit and wait and make them uncomfortable until they would leave," said Chief Mike Mullins of the Hurricane Police Department.
But Mayor Edwards said enough is enough. City council passed a new ordinance banning registered sex offenders from loitering within 500 feet of a "child safety zone". Those are places like public swimming pools, parks, trails, and football fields.
Putnam resident Emily Mullens is thrilled about the new ordinance, hoping it will help keep predators away from her two kids. "It's sick. I mean, you can't even let your kids play in a park anymore because these creeps that you have no idea who they are. I mean, you can't tell them the difference between a parent so I mean you see them there thinking they're a parent. That's disgusting," explained Mullens.
Not being able to tell the difference is exactly what has others questioning whether it will work.
"I think the practicality of enforcement would be extremely difficult because most people don't have a sign over their head that says I'm a sex offender," said Putnam County resident, Rita Fisher.
But the mayor thinks it's a step in the right direction and something that could swing playgrounds back to being just for kids.
If an offender violates the ordinance, he or she can face up to 30 days in jail or a $2,000 fine.
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