Sex Offender legislation continues to move in Tampa City Council by Mitch E. Perry

WMNF Drive-Time News Friday

2 weeks ago the Tampa City Council was informed by their Attorney that they could NOT impose an outright ban on sexual offenders in the City. 


But they are still very intent on passing an Ordinance that will not only  keep the state's 1,000-foot residency buffer, but also would create exclusionary zones where sexual offenders would be prohibited from loitering


The City’s actions towards such an ordinance are happening at times simultaneously with efforts by Hillsborough County. 


County Commissioner Ken Hagen has spoken specifically with Councilman Shawn Harrison on several occasions, and told the Council today that its incumbent that the 2 local governments work together to make sure such ordinances are legally enforceable and effective (roll tape#1 o.q.”what we’re doing”)   


Assistant City Attorney Kirby Rainsberger  told the Council that there was one aspect of the proposed Ordinance that presented potential  trouble,  from a legal perspective. 

 That is, how to create sufficient notices to sexual offenders that they have entered into a zone that is illegal for them.              (roll tape#2 o.q.”stop and start”)


Rainsberger also worried about enforcing signs at bus stops.


But that upset Councilman Shawn Harrison , who confronted Rainsberger(roll tape#3 .q.” 

Whatever you may sish to do”)


Rainsberger said some of the legal territory regarding the amount of space a sexual offender could not violate reminded him of the City’s crafting of the infamous 6 foot rule back in 1999.  That law requires adult club patrons to stand at least that far away from adult dancers.    And about crafting ‘drug free zones’ signs.


Councilman John Dingfelder , an attorney, agreed with Rainsberger (roll tape# 4 o.q.”

Big problems with”)


But Councilman Harrison expressed frustration with Rainsberger’s legalisms, and said the Council shouldn’t forget about the big picture involved (roll tape#5 o.q.”I just can’t accept that”)


Later, Dr. Leo Cotter addressed the Council.  Dr. Cotter specializes in Sex offender Treatment and Therapy.  He presented a power point demonstration regarding sex offenders and residency restrictions, and said there’s considerable evidence that they don’t make local communities any safer  (roll tape#6 o.q.” residency restrictions”)


Judy Cornett is the Mother of a child who was sexually molested by Kevin Kinder in 1992.  She said she strongly supported safety zones…And she urged the Council to include sexual offenders – and not just sexual predators in their ordinance.  She mentioned high profile sex crimes that were committed by men who were listed as offenders (roll tape#7 o.q.”as education”)


The City Council then voted to have the City’s legal Department continue to work on creating an Ordinance, hopefully by March 22nd.  They told the Legal staff to include sexual offenders AND predators in the proposal, and to include making it illegal for predators and offenders to be near a bus stop when children would be present, specifically in morning and afternoon hours.



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