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Greeley police chief supports easing sex offender living restrictions

9:45 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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GREELEY - Sex offenders against children could be allowed to move closer to schools and parks in Greeley.

"We're trying to strike a balance between the need for public safety. We want to protect our kids from sex offenders, versus being able to have these folks rehabilitate and not re-offend out here," Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said.

Garner supports an ordinance that would reduce from 750 feet to 300 feet the mandatory distance a sex offender must live from parks, schools, playgrounds and pools.

He said the city attorney suggested the ordinance change out of fear of a lawsuit that could cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"If we don't change our ordinance, we're going to end up getting sued and spending a whole bunch of money," Garner said.

He's referring to a lawsuit the city of Englewood recently lost. The city's sex offender ordinance was so strict that 99 percent of the city was off limits, according to a judge.

Compared to Greeley's 750 feet limit, Englewood mandated 2,000 feet for parks, schools and playgrounds.

Garner said that research shows sex offenders do not usually prowl close to home.

"They're smart enough, at least most of them, not to re-offend in their backyard. They're going somewhere else to do this. So, you're probably not causing any danger to kids by reducing the number of feet," he said.

Greeley resident Susan Pope doesn't agree.

"I think they should leave it the way it is," Pope said. "I'm not sure if they've committed a crime if we need to be fair about it."

The ordinance will go before city council next month for public comment.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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