The city approved the creation of child safety zones Tuesday where registered sex offenders who targeted minors won’t be allowed.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said city Councilor Frank Nicastro.
Councilors unanimously endorsed the statute, which will take effect in about two weeks.
Nicastro said he’s glad the city “is getting something that some teeth” by creating areas where children congregate that are barred to sex offenders.
The police are obligated to issue warnings to registered child sex offenders who go to municipal parks, schools, pools, beaches, ball fields and other child-friendly sites.
Offenders who refuse to move on, or return after being told to depart, will face $90 fines.
Nicastro said the savage beating and rape of a teenage girl in Brackett Park last year by a registered sex offender who was wearing an electronic bracelet at the time showcased the need for more government action.
“We have to do everything we can to protect our children,” said Nicastro, who asked the Ordinance Committee to adopt the law.
There are some cases when sex offenders can enter the new child safety zones.
They are allowed to enter polling places to vote even if voting machines are located within one of the zones.
They can also enter zones if they need to do so in order to meet conditions attached to their probation.
Finally, councilors agreed to allow sex offenders who have their own children to pick them up at school.
At any given time, there are about 100 registered sex offenders living in Bristol. It isn’t clear how many of them were convicted of a crime involving a minor.Dale Clift, an assistant city attorney, has said that the new law would require Police Chief John DiVenere to send written notice of the ordinance to everyone on the registry who lives in Bristol. Similar letters will be sent to anyone added to the registry, said city Councilor Craig Minor.The measure is modeled on one that Danbury adopted last year.
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