When registered sex offenders move into a community, the first response is fear, the second is uncharitable feelings and the third is, how do we protect our children?
Worried parents and other like-minded individuals wish they could cordon off their town and roll out the “unwelcome sign.” It isn’t that easy. After an offender has served their time, they have rights on where they want to live. Most of us hope it is somewhere else, but what can you do when their residence is your city?
The Hankinson City Council was notified of a high-risk sex offender living near town and they created an ordinance to limit where the offender can be in Hankinson. The council created their ordinance from one the city of Abercrombie adopted. It is a legal way residents can restrict offender’s activities.
Hankinson established a safety net for children by creating areas around locations where children regularly congregate in concentrated numbers and will prohibit registered sex offenders and sexual predators from loitering or prohibit establishing temporary or permanent residency near these locations. Mayor Joseph O’Meara said the council had their first reading of the new ordinance last Monday. “We can’t make it so they can’t come to town. Period,” he said. “But, there are critical areas we don’t want to see him loitering around.”
There are a number of registered sex offenders living in Richland County, with three high-risk offenders living in Wahpeton, one near Hankinson and the fifth one residing in Lidgerwood, N.D. Registered offenders have served their time and have rights. City councils represent the rights of their citizens and are obligated to protect our children, especially from the ones considered high risk to re-offend.