Port Orange City Council members met Tuesday night to discuss a proposal to put signs up in the yards of sexual predators that let everyone know just who is living in their neighborhoods.
The issue came about when a group of parents pushed to have a sexual offender moved away from a nearby elementary school. They got what they wanted when the man moved away.
Bradford County in northern Florida already use similar signs and the signs have now become a heated topic in Port Orange.
The issue wasn’t on the meeting agenda, but Vice Mayor Don Burnette brought up the plan anyway to get the conversation going.
Resident Margie Patchett was at the meeting and she said she’s convinced it would help send predators packing.
- Proving the signs are punishment?
“When you shine the light on people like that and their neighbors find out, and other people in the community find out, I think that puts the pressure on them to move,” Patchett said.
- Or put a target on them for vigilantism, which is a problem across this country.
Some council members expressed concerns that the signs could hurt property values.
“It would be hard to rent, hard to sell a home,” councilman Bob Ford said.
Patchett, who works in real estate, didn’t agree.
“I am more concerned about the safety of our children than the property values,” she said. “I think it’s more dangerous for our home values that they remain in our community.”
Ford, who is a former police chief, said he believes keeping close tabs on the predators is the best way to go.
“I don’t think signs are nearly as important as police presence,” Ford said. “They know that if they step out of line they are going to be confronted.”
Council members said there needs to be more research done before the issue can come up for a vote, so they decided to put it on the agenda of a future council meeting.