With the ordinance’s passage, it is now 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 live within 1,000 feet of areas children commonly gather. The ordinance refers to such areas as “child safety zones.” As outlined, child safety zones include places such as schools, arcades, parks and playgrounds.
“I just want to commend our officers, and you, [Keller police] Chief [Brad] Fortune, for bringing this forward,” Council Member Ross McMullin said. “I think it’s very important to consider this and, you know, keep up safety in our communities—especially for our younger population.”
During a Keller City Council work session Oct. 5, Keller police Detective William Brockmoller said there are 20 sex offenders residing in Keller, and two are in jail. Those who already live near a child safety zone will not be forced to move and are grandfathered in.
The ordinance also makes it illegal for sex offenders to have outdoor, street-facing lights and hand out candy on Halloween, which does also apply to the already-registered sex offenders living in the city.
A violation of the new ordinance is considered a Class C misdemeanor and punishable by a fine up to $500 for each offense, according to the ordinance.
Keller is not the first city to have such an ordinance in place. At the Oct. 5 work session, a presentation showed that Watauga, North Richland Hills, Roanoke, Richland Hills, Southlake, Grapevine, Flower Mound and Saginaw all have some version of the ordinance with the distances varying between 1,000 to 2,000 feet.
Keller City Council initially visited the ordinance at its Sept. 7 meeting but voted to table it to allow more time to ask questions and discuss whether the distance should be greater than 1,000 feet. However, Fortune said at the work session that the city cannot limit proximity to more than 1,000 feet because of a law that was enacted in 2017.
“As I indicated at the prior meetings, I’m surprised we never had this instituted, but I’m glad that we’re doing it now,” Keller Mayor Armin Mizani said.