By Amy Bounds
City would become first in Boulder County to impose such rules
LOUISVILLE -- This city could become the first in Boulder County to ban sex offenders from living near schools and other places where children congregate.
Louisville staff members are asking the City Council at Tuesday's meeting if there's interest in pursuing sex offender residency restrictions.
"We're looking for direction from council," City Manager Malcolm Fleming said.
Colorado is not one of the two dozen states where sex offender "exclusion zones" have been approved, leaving the decision up to individual communities. So far, no Boulder County communities have enacted residency restrictions, which can limit registered sex offenders from living near schools, libraries, playgrounds and other locations frequented by children.
In other states, the issue has proved contentious, drawing protests -- and sometimes lawsuits -- from the American Civil Liberties Union (Contact). The ACLU has asserted that creating sex-offender-free zones does little to protect the public, instead driving sex offenders underground -- they often avoid registering with local police because it's too difficult to find a place to live.
Louisville's Fleming said one reason to consider limiting where sex offenders can live is the possibility that more offenders could move to Louisville because of restrictions in other communities.
Neighboring Lafayette also has started talking about excluding sex offenders from certain areas, while Erie is scheduled to take up the topic in the coming year.
Lafayette Mayor Chris Cameron said the city attorney is still investigating the issue and nothing has been formally proposed.
She said she hasn't yet formed an opinion and wants more information on whether there's a problem that could be addressed by imposing restrictions.
"It's a complex issue," she said.
In Louisville, staff members said issues for consideration in drafting new rules could include the age of the offender, nature of the offense and the impact on offenders living with immediate family.
Broader questions include whether restrictions would hinder the reintegration of offenders into society, along with whether restrictions would prevent sex crimes.
Louisville currently has six registered felony sex offenders living within city limits, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Fleming said there are typically about a dozen registered sex offenders living in the city.
As far as Louisville police could determine, no registered sex offenders have reoffended while living in the city, he said. Louisville's sex offender registry list also has never included a "sexually violent predator."
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