City considers restricting residences of sex offenders

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Keeping registered sex offenders away from your kids and the places they play, that's what the City of Amarillo is looking to do through a proposed ordinance that restricts where offenders can live.

City leaders have been mulling the idea over for weeks, but are still left with more questions than answers, which is why they are listening to what the public has to say about the issue, before they make a decision.

There are roughly 500 sex offenders in Amarillo, who currently can live anywhere they choose.

But the city may soon change that with an ordinance that prevents offenders with convictions involving a minor, from residing within 1,000 feet of registered day cares, schools, youth centers, public parks and recreation areas.

Offenders currently living closer than 1,000 feet to these areas do not have to move. They also

Do not have to re-locate if a youth center opens up next to them.

While this ordinance may sound like a no-brainer, it does bring about some concerns, ones the public raised in front of city leaders Tuesday night.

Many pointed out restricting offenders from certain areas, may concentrate them in others.

City Commissioner Ellen Robertson-Green says "I think it's economical issues that determine where you live, more than a buffer zone, so I am not as concerned about that, as I am about it creating a false sense of security."

Mayor Paul Harpole says although the ordinance can't solve all problems with the issue, it can certainly help.

Harpole explains, "We're trying to deal with the people we know who are offenders that are back on the streets and looking for victims. In my mind, that's what our job is. We can't affect every part of this with city ordinance."

Law enforcement says removing a sex offender from a place where they can observe children and prey on them, decreases the chance of them being able to offend.  

The city plans to do additional research and speak with professionals who deal with offenders before taking a vote.