GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Greeley City Council recently voted to reduce restrictions and allow sex offenders to live closer to schools, parks and recreation centers.
Since 2009 the city had been keeping offenders from living with 750 feet of a school, park or public swimming pool.
“We weren’t helping at all by keeping that tight of a restriction on where sex offenders could live,” said Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner.
Now people with records of sexually assaulting children can live 300 feet, roughly one block away from those public places.
“Although an ordinance that limits where sex offenders can live maybe feels good, as a law and order measure there is no evidence that it is preventing any sexual assaults from occurring,” said Garner.
Garner said the majority of sexual assaults on children are committed by someone who knows the child and not strangers. He also said the old rule opened the city up to potentially costly lawsuits.
The new ordinance went into effect two weeks ago.
“People in other words have a right to find someplace to live whether they are a sex offender or not,” said Garner.
Parents and grandparents, however, said the new rule does not sit well with them.
“I can’t believe the police would be supportive of something like that,” said Greeley resident Marie Helton.
“I don’t know what they were thinking when they did this change. They were not thinking about children, I guess, and our concern right now is the children,” said Greeley resident and grandparent Conny Casarez.
Some argue that reducing the buffer zones between kids and sex offenders offers a better chance at rehabilitation. Casarez doesn’t agree with that argument.
“They need to find a different area to rehabilitate them, and not near the school,” said Casarez.
Greeley residents can find out where sex offenders currently live within the city on the Greeley Police Department’s website.