Sex Offender Restrictions

The Omaha City Council has approved an ordinance restricting where convicted sex offenders can live. It will keep high-risk offenders from living within 500 feet of schools.

The council approved the ordinance Tuesday afternoon.

The ordinance specifically targets child molesters and there was across-the-board support for the plan at Tuesday's city council meeting.

What was a cloudier issue was the matter of policing the ordinance.

Right now it's the job of the state patrol and sheriff's department but Councilman Garry Gernandt wanted it expanded to police.

Gernandt said his preference, "is to allow Omaha blue-shirts, in their down time, to go out and knock on doors and do the community policing job the mayor is so in favor of."

Rebecca Barrientos-Patlin is married to a police officer who has made those kind of checks and she testified in favor of the idea.

"It makes the sex offenders more apt to not doing anything wrong," she said.

Police Union President Aaron Hanson echoed support but Police Chief Thomas Warren voiced concern.

The chief said, "I do feel there would be some duplication effort. I do feel there would be some confusion with who's responsible for conducting those compliance checks."

A majority of the council agreed, voting to drop compliance checks by Omaha police.

While the restrictions will apply to Omaha schools, there are no restrictions involving day care locations. Council members say they had to draw the line somewhere.

A home day care operator who lives within blocks of three high-risk offenders said she understands that offenders must live somewhere but she says she still wishes day cares could have been included.

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