The Keller City Council considered a proposed ordinance that would prohibit certain registered sex offenders from living within a certain distance of where children frequently gather at its Sept. 7 meeting. Council members agreed to table the ordinance for now to allow council members more time to ask questions about the policy and whether the distance proposed should be even greater.
Specifically, the law would make it illegal for a sex offender—defined by the city as any person required to register as a sex offender under state law because of an offense involving a child—to “establish a permanent or temporary residence” within 1,000 feet of “a child safety zone,” according to the ordinance.
The city defines “child safety zones” as anywhere children commonly gather, such as schools, arcades and playgrounds—regardless of whether it is inside or outside of Keller city limits, according to the ordinance. Violations would be a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.
While the proposed ordinance was originally one of six items on the council’s consent agenda, the council voted to discuss it separately. Keller Mayor Armin Mizani said the ordinance is “good public policy” but that the council had “a couple of questions” during its work session, including whether to set the distance at 1,000 or 2,000 feet.
“I'm actually really surprised that we didn't have an ordinance like this on the books, and so I'm glad that it's being brought forth,” Mizani said.
However, due to the council’s remaining questions, Mizani motioned to first bring up the ordinance at a work session and then vote on it at the following meeting. The motion to table the ordinance passed 6-0.
The reasoning behind the ordinance, according to a staff memo, is because the reoffend rate of released sex offenders “is alarmingly high, especially for those who commit their crimes against children.” And while the ordinance would restrict sex offenders geographically, it would not prohibit registered sex offenders from living in Keller.