Gainesville to vote on tougher sex offender restrictions

By: Stephanie Brletic Email
By: Stephanie Brletic Email

GAINESVILLE, TX -- When you are out with your children, you are there to protect them, but most of us can't be with them at all times. Now one city is trying to help keep your kids safe when you can't. Stephanie Brletic explains.

On Tuesday, the city of Gainesville will consider tightening regulations for sex offenders by keeping them farther away from places where children gather.

"Whenever your kid’s running around and everything you can't always keep a closest eye on him, especially in a park like this, with mazes and stuff like that. As soon as he gets out of your sight, you start thinking who else is around and look at other people, and with that law, you just feel a little bit safer," Gainesville father Gary Bowles says.

Gary Bowles is glad to hear that Gainesville may soon take steps to keep kids like his son, Jareth, safe. Jareth's mom, Christine, says Leonard Park is close to her house, and she hopes that soon sex offenders will be forced to stay even farther away from parks where children play.

"One of the things the council wants to do is protect children that we have from being offended and if we can , if this ordinance protects that child from being offended, and we can get it to the 2,000 foot rule, then it's worthwhile," Captain Steven Fleming of the Gainesville Police Department says.

Currently, Gainesville does not have specific city regulations for sex offenders. Instead they enforce the state laws, which say offenders on community supervision must live at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks, arcades, and other similar places.

But if the new ordinance passes as expected, sex offenders will have to live at least 2,000 feet away from places where children gather. Plus, officials can take action if someone violates the policy.

"Because of the $500 fine, it's an added penalty on them, and the big thing is that we can sue them or have a judge order them to leave," Gainesville City Manager Barry Sullivan says.

Offenders already living 1,000 feet away will be grandfathered and allowed to live in their existing homes, but if they move, it will have to be at least 2,000 feet away.

The city council is set to vote on this issue Tuesday night.


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