Registered sexual predators and offenders already have to stay at least 1,000 feet away from areas where kids might congregate. If Mike Moore gets his way, those convicted of sexual crimes could be pushed back even further.
Moore, who joined the Pasco County Commission last month, is expected to propose a new countywide ordinance in January that would increase the distance registered predators and offenders have to stay away from children areas at 2,500 feet, or nearly a half-mile. That would include everything from schools and day cares, to the thousands of bus stops located around the county.
And if that means there’s nowhere left for predators or offenders to live, Pasco County sheriff Chris Nocco says he’s OK with that.
“It’s not a bad day if they all leave the county,” he said. “You get a guy who did a sexual battery on an 11-year-old girl, and I propose that anybody who is against this, let that person move into your house. If you feel like we’re beating up on that person, let them move into your house, or let them move next door to you.”
It’s not clear exactly where those who are convicted and registered predators and offenders would be able to live, but Moore said during a news conference Monday there are some pockets in the county that would still be legal if the ordinance were to pass. It might come off as highly restrictive for those who have been convicted of crimes, but the safety of children should come first and foremost, the commissioner added.
“Anything we can do to reduce the opportunity for sexual offenders and sexual predators to come into contact with these children is a positive for us,” Moore said. “Looking from the outside and looking in, they’ll understand that Pasco is a safe place.”
Although Moore has not discussed the proposal with other commissioners, he said he has talked to the county attorney, Jeffrey Steinsnyder. A draft of the ordinance might echo similar ones in other areas, including one in Miami-Dade County. The ordinance there strengthens state law that already restricts those convicted of a sexual battery, lewd and lascivious act on or in the presence of a child under 16, the sexual performance by a child, or selling or buying of minors for portrayal in sexually explicit conduct, to reside within 1,000 feet of any school, day care center or playground.
The Miami-Dade ordinance, however, only restricts residency within 2,500 feet of a school. The Pasco ordinance, Moore and Nocco said, also would include bus stops, day care centers, libraries, assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
“Anywhere that our most vulnerable citizens congregate,” Moore said.
The Miami-Dade restrictions were enough to prompt the American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit in federal court, claiming the ordinance is too onerous, and does not give registered predators or offenders any place to live.
Moore won’t let this hamper his efforts to move the proposal forward, however.
“We can’t be scared of lawsuits when we propose an ordinance,” he said.
Such an ordinance would have to be approved by the full county commission, which will not even officially get an introduction to Moore’s plan until its next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 13.
Nocco was a vocal supporter of Moore during his political campaign to replace longtime commissioner Pat Mulieri. Nocco appeared in a television advertisement as well as mailers supporting the commission campaign.
Published December 10, 2014
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