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Englewood Fighting To Keep Tough Sex Offender Ordinance

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – The city of Englewood is fighting to keep one of the toughest sex offender ordinances in the state, and what happens there could impact other Front Range towns.

Englewood says it will do whatever it takes to prevent sex offenders from living close to schools, parks and playgrounds. A judge essentially threw out the ordinance and said sex offenders can live wherever they please.

The ordinance is about repeat and violent sex offenders. The city wanted to keep them 2,000 feet away from schools and playgrounds. But in the judge’s ruling, he said that essentially leaves them with no place to live. The city is appealing the court’s decision and is now pushing lawmakers to enact the residency restrictions statewide.

“We want some form of distancing to keep them away from our schools, from our parks, from our swimming pools, from our day care centers,” Mayor Randy Penn said.

But that makes virtually the entire city off limits to sex offenders. The court ruled a city doesn’t have the authority to do that — only the state does. State statutes deal with the supervision and management of sex offenders.

“We do not believe that we have preempted the state laws,” Penn said. “We want to get it out in the public so everyone will start talking about this and say, ‘Hey, this is a problem. What can we do with it?’ “

“It’s what the judge in this ruling called the domino effect, and eventually sex offenders, unable to find housing, unable to live legally any place, will go underground,” Mark Silverstein with the ACLU said.

If the state legislature gets involved it wouldn’t be the first time it weighed in on the issue. In 2006 a bill restricting where sex offenders could live died in committee. Five other cities — Castle Rock, Commerce City, Greeley, Greenwood Village and Lone Tree all have similar ordinances on the books.

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