By Lindsay Tuchman
MILTON - The Milton Town Council decided Monday night to host a public hearing on February 27th at 6:00pm to discuss an ordinance that would change the distance a sex offender can live to a school, day care or park. Currently the minimum distance is 3,000 feet. The council is considering lowering this to 500 feet.
The Delaware state minimum is 500 feet.
According to Mayor Marion Jones, local sex offenders have threatened to challenge the current law, leading the council to investigate its constitutionality. In such a small town with several schools, day cares and parks, the current minimum does not leave many options for sex offenders to live. Milton engineers drew up a map to show where the options are.
Fred Best, Principal at Mariner Middle School, says if the ordinance is changed, the school will be prepared.
"When you're talking 3,000, 500 feet that's not a huge difference for us as long as they're still 500 feet away and we know where they are, we know they're there," he explained. "We can take the necessary steps to keep our kids safe."
- 500 or 100,000 feet would not make a difference. The facts are that most sexual crimes occur in the victims own home and family, not at a school, bus stop, park or daycare. Residency restrictions do nothing to prevent crime or protect anybody.
His wife, Nicole Best, thinks 500 feet is just too close.
"The thing I think that would make me uneasy is that if they... allowed the sex offender to be closer to the school," she said "At 500 feet you have a visual on the school."
- Come on, ex-offenders, for the most part, do not sit on their front porch watching kids at school.
An 8th grade teacher at Mariner, Dana Orton, feels the same as Nicole.
"I think 1,000 is a little more reasonable, 500 just seems a little close," Dana said.
Mayor Jones wanted to make it clear that the council is not championing sex offenders, rather questioning the legality of the situation.