Mayor Thomas Koch is reviewing a proposed ordinance that would ban Level 3 sex offenders from entering libraries and parks in the city, as well as loitering within 500 feet of them.
Mayor Thomas Koch is reviewing a proposed ordinance that would ban Level 3 sex offenders from entering libraries and parks and from loitering within 500 feet of them.
The ordinance, which would create “safety zones” around the city’s parks, playgrounds, schools and elderly housing, was passed by the city council. It must be signed by the mayor before it takes effect.
“It’s a great step forward, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more communities follow,” said City Councilor Doug Gutro, who wrote the ordinance with Councilor Kevin Coughlin.
Violations of the ordinance, which would apply only to Level 3 sex offenders – those deemed by the state most likely to re-offend – would carry a $150 fine for a first violation and $300 for each subsequent violation.
The police department would be responsible for enforcing the ordinance and the department of public works would maintain a list of prohibited areas.
The proposal includes a provision that would allow sex offenders to enter prohibited areas to vote or attend a religious service.
“We have something that will be another tool in the toolbox for law enforcement officials in the city,” Coughlin said.
Koch spokesman Chris Walker said the mayor “agrees with the sentiment behind the legislation” and, before deciding whether to sign it, will review it with the police department “to ensure that it will be as effective in the real world as it is in spirit to protect the citizens.”
A first draft of the ordinance included a provision that would ban sex offenders from living within a certain distance of schools and parks.
That was removed after councilors expressed fear the provision would stop offenders from reporting where they live, as they are required to by law.
Councilor Joseph Finn said the residency restriction “would have made 99 percent of all housing unavailable” to offenders.
“Study after study indicates that there is no connection between residential proximity and recidivism of sexual crime,” Finn said. “All it really does is make housing an even more difficult dilemma and it creates greater transiency, which in fact increases recidivism.”
Officials in Weymouth passed an ordinance last year that bans Level 3 sex offenders from living within 1,500 feet of any school, playground, day care or recreational facility.
In January, Weymouth kicked a sex offender out of a lodging house because it was too close to a school. He was looking to relocate to Quincy, but is most recently listed as living in Boston.
In addition to a residency restriction, Quincy officials dropped a provision from the ordinance’s first draft that allowed police to arrest sex offenders for loitering in a safety zone.
Assistant City Solicitor Kevin Madden told the council that a city cannot pass a law that gives local police the right of arrest.
“It cannot be an arrestable offense,” Madden said of violations of the ordinance.
Coughlin said he was compelled to look at some type of sex offender ordinance after the parent of a teenager told him her child had seen a man masturbating while looking at pornography on a computer at the Thomas Crane Public Library. The man was told to leave the library, but was not arrested, Coughlin said.
“(The ordinance) sends some type of message that ... Quincy is less tolerant than we were before,” he said.
Currently, 20 Level 3 sex offenders either work or live in Quincy, according to the state Sex Offender Registry Board.
READ MORE about this issue.
Patriot Ledger writer Jack Encarnacao is at email@example.com.
There are 81 Level 2 sex offenders and 20 Level 3 sex offenders registered in Quincy. Level 2 means the person is likely to reoffend; Level 3 is highly likely to reoffend.
The proposed sex offender ordinance in Quincy would prohibit Level 3 sex offenders from:
- Entering a school, library or day care center unless authorized in writing by an administrator.
- Entering an elderly housing facility unless authorized in writing by a site manager.
- Entering a park or a recreational facility.
- Participating in “a holiday event” involving people 18 or younger, “such as distributing candy or other items to children.” An exception is made if the parent of one of the participating children is a sex offender.
- Loitering within 500 feet of a school, library, day care center, park, recreational facility, elderly housing and bus stops. “Loiter” is defined as “remaining in or around property and/or buildings” for more than 15 minutes.