By Mike Gauntner
GIRARD - Girard City Council has amended an ordinance designed to keep sex offenders from having contact with children on trick-or-treat night.
Law Director Brian Kren tells 21 News that council approved the original ordinance last year based on regulations adopted by some other U.S. cities to protect children taking part in trick-or-treat from the dangers posed by registered sex offenders convicted of offenses against minors.
Girard's original ordinance only applied to the date of October 31, the traditional day on which Halloween is observed.
Council has now amended the ordinance so it would be in effect if the city decides to hold trick-or-treat on dates other than October 31.
Under the ordinance, registered sex offenders must turn off all exterior lighting from 5:00 p.m. until midnight on the night trick-or-treat is observed.
The ordinance also bans sex offenders from putting up Halloween decorations on their home or in their yard.
Sex offenders must also refrain from answering the door for children who are trick-or-treating.
Law Director Kren doesn't beleive that the city could successfully enforce the rules on homeowners who have a sex offender living with them. So council has added another provision to the law which exempts property owners who fall into that category.
Asked if he believes the ordinance could survive a court challenge, Kren tells 21 News that the community of Simi Valley, California passed a similar ordinance. He points out that the courts struck down a provision of that city's law requiring that signs be posted outside homes to notify the public that a sex offender was living there, but other provisions were upheld.
According to the Ohio Attorney General's interactive database, four registered sex offenders live within Girard city limits.