ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) — The city of Englewood could go from having one of the toughest sex offender ordinances in the state to having none at all after a judge ruled this week that what they have on the books is unconstitutional.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the suburb’s ordinance on behalf of a man who bought a house in Englewood in 2012 and later found out he couldn’t live there.
ACLU spokesman Mark Silverstein described their position to CBS4 News:
“A local residency restriction that forbids sex offenders from living in 99 percent of the city violates the Colorado constitution,” he said.
Englewood is known for its family-friendly atmosphere — parks, playgrounds and schools abound. Many residents CBS4 spoke to on Thursday thought the ordinance, which was overturned on Wednesday in federal court, should have stayed in place.
“It’s very safe, and I want to keep it safe. I should know if there’s some bad person … I’d like to know about it,” Matt Vincent said.
“I do not think they should have anyone advocating their rights that they took away from themselves by the decisions they made,” resident Erik Denning said.
ACLU attorneys argued that the city’s restrictions — prohibiting certain sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school, park or playground and 1,000 feet of a day care center or rec center, among other places — essentially banished registered sex offenders from living anywhere in the city.
The judge decided that Englewood’s restrictions would push sex offenders into neighboring cities or underground.
“If sex offenders feel they can’t comply with the law some of them may choose to go — as the judge said — underground (where they would be) no longer connected to treatment, no longer connected to monitoring, no longer connected to supervision,” Silverstein said.
The ruling says just this specific ordinance is unconstitutional. Englewood’s lawyers are reviewing their options and will report their findings to the city council next Monday. They could appeal.
Five other cities in Colorado have similar ordinances — Castle Rock, Lone Tree, Commerce City, Greeley and Greenwood Village, which lies right next to Englewood. Greenwood Village’s city attorney told CBS4 they will be analyzing the ruling and deciding what, if any, actions they might take.