A new law will go into effect next month that bans sex offenders from entering parks and other areas in Los Alamitos where children play without written permission from police.
The new law, which creates “Child Safety Zones” around parks and play areas, earned unanimous approval from the City Council on Monday. With the vote, Los Alamitos becomes the latest city to adopt the measure modeled after an Orange County ordinance passed in April that makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, for registered sex offenders to enter designated safety zones.
“They can’t kick them out of the city,” said Los Alamitos police Capt. Bruce McAlpine. But city officials can limit where they go.
While the city has only 11 registered sex offenders, neighboring Long Beach has no shortage of sex offenders, said city and county officials. Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff for Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, urged city leaders to adopt the ordinance on behalf of parents and children throughout the city.
“There are over 766 sex offenders living in Long Beach; anybody can come in from anywhere and videotape children," Schroeder said, referring to Philip and Nancy Garrido, the kidnappers of Jaycee Dugard. They videotaped children using the tapes as a means of sexual pleasure and to scout out new victims, said prosecutors.
Los Alamitos Police Chief Todd Mattern said sex offenders on probation have to be watched, and if they commit the crime of being in restricted areas, they will be charged with a misdemeanor. The new law extends to all listed sex offenders, including those not on parole. The only way a sex offender can go to parks or anywhere near a large population of children is if they have a written statement form the police.
“I have been watching this ordinance across the county and wanted to bring it to our city,” said Mayor pro tem Troy Edgar.
Councilwoman Marilyn Poe also came out strongly in favor of the ordinance.
“We should do anything we can do to protect children and if this is an added layer, I am for it,” Poe said.
“I know this will benefit our citizens,” added Mayor Kenneth Stephens.
Following the council meeting, Rackauckas released a written statement praising city officials.
“The citizens of Los Alamitos should thank their City Council for working to protect their children from violent sex offenders who may be lurking in their parks,” he said.