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HomeAt Home & BeyondBOCC moves forward on proposed sex offender registry law

BOCC moves forward on proposed sex offender registry law

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Members of the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted unanimously to move forward with a proposed ordinance that would regulate the residency and registration requirements of convicted sexual offenders or sexual predators residing within the county. The proposed law was drafted at the request of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

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The BOCC heard details on the proposed ordinance during their regular meeting on Jan. 24.
“It’s my understanding that Citrus and Pasco counties have much more stringent ordinances than Hernando does currently,” said County Attorney Jon Jouben. “And we’re creating a kind of vacuum here in Hernando County.”

Specifically, the proposed ordinance would prohibit Sexual offenders and sexual predators from residing within 1,000 feet of specified locations in the County. That 1,000-foot distance would be measured in a direct line from the outermost property line of the offender’s or predator’s residence to the outermost property line of the prohibited location.
Prohibited locations include schools, daycare centers, public parks, libraries, religious institutions, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities.

It would also restrict predators and offenders from celebrating holidays in a manner that they could use to lure victims and would prohibit predators and offenders from loitering within 1,000 feet of a prohibited location.

Finally, the proposed ordinance authorizes the Hernando County Sheriff to use the county Detention Center as an emergency shelter for offenders and predators during national emergency situations. In addition, it allows the Sheriff to impose an annual fee for offender and predator registrations.
“This ordinance has language that allows us a little easier to make sure if they are in compliance, and if they are not; makes it easier to enforce (the ordinance) and make arrests,” said Lt Scott Lamia of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO). “This is all about giving the officers and the HCSO the tools to do their job.”

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Before the vote, Council Member Beth Narverud questioned why school bus stops are not included among prohibited locations.
“Does the School (district) work with you (the HCSO) in selecting those stops to be sure that they are not putting children in areas where someone could possibly hurt (them)? Navarud asked.

In response, Jouben said that bus stops are not included because they may change based on the location and number of children who ride the bus to school on that particular route. “(When) you have anything indefinite an objective person couldn’t know they were violating the law,” he said. “ At school bus stops – which change and are not a building – you might not even know that you violated it.”

The proposed measure now moves forward for public comment, after which the BOCC may vote to enact it.

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