City Council to Address Sex Offender Ordinance Tuesday


At tomorrow’s City Council Meeting, San Angelo Police Chief Vasquez will be briefing council members and the public on an update to a possible sex offender ordinance.

Previously, Vasquez told council members getting an ordinance in place would be difficult because of the legalities. 

Despite the challenges, however, City Council Member Charlotte Farmer stated, “This is the perfect opportunity for the public to come forward to voice their opinion on how strong they want their council to be on this subject. The bigger the crowd the better. Council members have a way of paying more attention when there are lots of people in the room.”

This has been a topic of high interest since many of the other Texas cities who have sex offender ordinances are now having to withdraw their ordinance due to legal issues. Some are even being sued for having these restrictions in place because they “violate the civil rights of sex offenders”.

Overall, these ordinances prevent convicted sex offenders from living near schools, parks, day care centers and any other place where children reside or frequent. A non-profit group, Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, has started to raise awareness of a statement made by Gov. Greg Abbott when he was attorney general in 2007. He stated his opinion is that general-law cities have no legal right to restrict where registered sex offenders may live, and it appears that statement has some bearing.

Winters and Hamlin were among 20 other cities who are repealing their ordinance due to this non-profit group sending letters to city officials stating that this action is illegal. Also, many of these small towns do not have the funds to fight a major court battle.

Since these ordinances have been in play, cities like Winters have just over a dozen or so sex offenders while Hamlin has less than five.

Farmer said she believes that it is very important and that we should fight this problem with statistics so the facts are there for everyone to see. 

For those people who wish their voices to be heard, the City Council meeting will begin at 9 a.m. at the McNease Convention Center, 501 Rio Concho Drive. The discussion on the registered sex offender ordinance will be the last item on the Regular Agenda.

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We need to keep in mind that San Angelo is a Home Rule city with it's own city charter and has much greater flexibility in self governance than a General Law City. General Law cities operate under many more restrictions. Because they don't have their own voter approved city charter they must operate under a general set of state rules that they really can't change very much.

Yes, please do use statistics and facts. Statistics show that residency restrictions have no value in promoting public safety. They do not deter the rate of first time offenses, repeat offenses, or child molestations. I don't know how many registrants live in San Angelo, but you are running a significant risk of creating a problem that you do not want if you destabilize the homes and living conditions of registrants who have been living peacefully and law-abidingly in the community. An article just came out about Tulsa, OK, who put in these type of restrictions in 2006. They are larger and have a larger number of registrants, I imagine, but this is from that article from the police dept. there. "2006 just turned our world upside down, prior to that we had 15 to 20 (failure to register) violations a year. Since that we have hundreds of violations a year...." Those statistics you need show that this sort of action--putting in these restrictions--actually decreases public safety. Men who were living with no problems with their families or alone are disrupted, thrown out of their homes, and many will lose jobs, families, and a sense of community. That will not make children safer.

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