Borough creates child safety zones

Ordinance bans sex offenders from designated areas

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses Tuesday night unanimously approved an ordinance that bans registered sex offenders from designated child safety zones.

Under the ordinance, sex offenders are no longer allowed in borough-owned or borough-operated parks, schools, playgrounds, recreation and event centers, pools, gyms, sports fields and facilities, trails, or open space areas.

“It is something we should be doing. We have to protect our children,” Deputy Mayor Laurie Taf Jackson said.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the ordinance was inspired by a young woman who was assaulted as a child. Hess said the offender has been released from prison and recently confronted the woman at a park.

“She felt uncomfortable and asked us to look into creating child safety zones,” Hess said.

The ordinance allows for a few exceptions. Sex offenders can enter a child safety zone to vote, drop off or pick up their child at school, and meet with a school faculty member to discuss their child, provided they leave the zone immediately after completing their task.

Also, the ordinance allows sex offenders to be in a child safety zone if it’s part of their job or part of their parole.

The ordinance doesn’t apply to anyone who is removed from the Connecticut Sex Offender Registry.

According to the registry, there are 38 registered sex offenders living in Naugatuck.

Police will notify all registered sex offenders in the area of the new policy, the ordinance states.

Those who violate the ordinance, which is slated to go into effect in early February, could face a $250 fine.

Police Chief Christopher Edson said $250 is the largest fine the borough can issue under an ordinance. Anything above that, he said, would have to be considered a misdemeanor.

Edson said officers will enforce the ordinance based on complaints.

“Police officers aren’t going to be at the door of every event or at the entrance to every park. We are going to be responding to complaints by individuals who have observed someone they know to be on that list,” Edson said.

Burgesses Rocky Vitale and Michael Bronko questioned the legality of the ordinance.

“My first thought with this is constitutional rights. If we are taking away somebody’s constitutional rights that could open up the borough to significant lawsuits,” Bronko said.

Edson said he was unaware of any lawsuits brought against other towns in Connecticut who have similar ordinances. If any lawsuits had been brought forward, they were unsuccessful, Edson said.

Resident W. Francis Dambowsky, who works as an investigator for the state Office of the Public Defender, gave an impassioned plea in favor of the ordinance during a public hearing prior to the board meeting.

Dambowsky said it would make people who are on the registry question whether it’s worth it to go to public events.

“There is not a single person in this room that doesn’t have a friend, family member or child that has not been abused by a predator,” Dambowsky said. “We don’t want our children to be there and spot the person who abused them.”

Burgess Carl Herb said he was completely in favor of the ordinance and keeping people on the sex offender registry away from public places.

“The state of Connecticut should never let people like this out on the street. There are only two places for people like this — in jail and then in hell,” Herb said.

 

The following is the complete ordinance:

ORDINANCE # 130

Chapter 13, Offenses and Miscellaneous Provisions, Article I, In General, Section 13-13 Child Safety Zone of the Code of Ordinances of the Borough of Naugatuck, Connecticut is hereby to read as follows:

Sec. 13-13.          Child Safety Zone

(a) Purpose. Since the Borough of Naugatuck has a compelling interest in protecting children from the threat of sexual abuse from sex offenders, it is hereby resolved that, to preserve and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the children of the Borough of Naugatuck, it is in the common interest to enact reasonable regulations restricting sex offenders from entering Child Safety Zones.

(b) Definitions. As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:

Child Safety Zone

(1) Any park, school, playground, recreation center, event center, swimming pool or wading pool, gymnasium, sports field, trail, passive recreation area, open space parcel, or sports facility, which:

  1. Is under the jurisdiction of any department, agency or authority of the Borough of Naugatuck, including, but not limited to, the Board of Education of the Borough of Naugatuck, the Park and Recreation Commission or the Conservation Commission.
  2. Is leased by the Borough of Naugatuck to another person for the purpose of operating a park, school, playground, recreation center, event center, bathing beach, swimming pool or wading pool, gymnasium, sports field, trail, passive recreation area, open space parcel, or sports facility;

(2) “Child Safety Zone” includes any and all buildings, land, parking area or other improvements located on the same parcel on which each of the aforementioned facilities is located, but does not include any public street or public sidewalk located on the outside boundary of Child Safety Zones.

Sex Offender

(1) A person who has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of 1) a criminal offense against a victim who is a minor, 2) a nonviolent sexual offense, 3) a sexually violent offense, or 4) any felony that the court finds was committed for a “sexual purpose,” as those terms are defined in Subdivisions (2), (5), (11) and (12) of Section 54-250 of the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended, and who is required to register with the Commissioner of Public Safety pursuant to Section 54-251, 54-252, 54-253 or 54-254 pf the Connecticut General Statues, as amended; or

(2) A person who has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect in any other state, in a federal or military court or in any foreign jurisdiction of any crime the essential elements of which are substantially the same as any of the crimes specified in Subdivision (2), (5), and (11) of Section 54-251 of the Connecticut Statutes, as amended, and which requires registration  as a sexual offender in such other state or in the federal or military system, and who resides in this state on and after October 1, 1998.

(c) Prohibited acts; exceptions.

(1) It shall be unlawful for a sex offender to be present in a Child Safety Zone.

(2) Exclusions.  This prohibition shall not apply to the following:

  1. To any person whose name has been removed from the Connecticut Department of Public Safety’s Sex Offender Registry or from the registry of any other state or in the federal or military system by act of a court or by expiration of the term.
  2. To any person entering into a facility in a child safety zone for the sole purpose of voting in any municipal, state or federal election or referendum, provided that the person leaves the facility immediately after voting.
  3. To the extent that the conduct prohibited by this chapter is in conflict with any sentence or order of probation or parole imposed upon a sex offender.
  4. To any person who enters a child safety zone for the purposes of dropping off or picking up his or her own child, provided that the person leaves the child safety zone immediately after dropping off or picking up his or her child.
  5. To any person who enters a child safety zone for the purpose of meeting with an adult, such as a teacher, administrator or nurse, to discuss his or her own child’s medical, educational or general welfare, provided that the person leaves the child safety zone immediately after completing the meeting or discussion.
  6. To any person who is lawfully employed in a position that might require providing services within such child safety zone, as defined herein, for the purpose of providing such employment services. Said person may provide services in the scope of employment only at the discretion of such person’s probation or parole officer or, if such person is not on probation or parole, at the discretion of the Chief of Police of the Borough of Naugatuck or its Resident State Trooper.

(d) Notice. The Chief of Police or his/her designee shall make reasonable efforts to provide prompt, actual written notice of the enactment of this chapter (which notice shall contain a copy of the article) to all persons who are listed on the Sex Offender Registry as of the effective date of this article as well as those persons who are added to the Sex Offender Registry thereafter, which persons’ addresses (as shown on the Sex Offender Registry) are within the Borough of Naugatuck. Such notice requirement may be satisfied by the mailing of such notice by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of such person as listed on the Sex Offender Registry or as otherwise known to the Chief of Police or his/her designee.  The failure of any person to receive such actual written notice shall not be a defense to a violation of this chapter.

(e) Enforcement; penalties for offenses.

(1) If a police officer reasonably believes that a sex offender is in a Child Safety Zone in violation of this article, the officer shall require that the suspected sex offender to provide his/her name, address and telephone number.  If it is established that the individual is a sex offender, then the officer may issue an infraction ticket to the offender and require the offender to leave the Child Safety Zone.

(2) Any person in violation of this chapter shall be fined in the amount of $250 for each violation or the maximum imposed by state statute.

(f) Child Safety Zones. Each Child Safety Zone may be identified by a sign conspicuously posted at the primary entrance to the Child Safety Zone and any building within the Child Safety Zone.  In addition, the Borough of Naugatuck will make available a map outlining each Child Safety Zone in the Borough of Naugatuck and a document listing each Child Safety Zone at the Mayor’s Office and the Borough of Naugatuck Police Department.  All Child Safety Zones similar to the map mentioned above and the document listing each Child Safety Zone in Naugatuck will be placed on the Borough of Naugatuck web site for viewing.

(g) Registry.

(1) The Borough of Naugatuck Police Department will maintain a sexual offender registration book of Borough of Naugatuck sexual offender registrants.  It should be known as the “Borough of Naugatuck Sexual Offender Registry” (Registry).

(2) The Borough of Naugatuck Sexual Offender Registry will be available for public view and shall be kept in the records area.  Upon request by an individual present at the Borough of Naugatuck Police Department, the Registry shall be made available for viewing.  The Borough of Naugatuck will not make copies of any part of the Registry; specific Registry information shall not be given out over the phone.

(3) Although the Connecticut Department of Public Safety by Connecticut General Statute is responsible for maintaining the Sex Offender Registry, the Borough of Naugatuck Police Department will still be required to maintain a copy of the registration information for all registrants residing within its jurisdiction in the Borough of Naugatuck Sexual Offender Registry.

(4) When a local registrant is released from the obligation to register, the Connecticut Department of Public Safety shall notify the Borough of Naugatuck Police Department that the person is no longer a registrant.  The Borough of Naugatuck Police Department shall then remove and destroy all Registry information pertaining to the person and shall make no further disclosure of such information.

(h) Severability; effect on other provisions. Any provision of this article held to be unconstitutional or superseded by state law or regulation shall not serve to invalidate the remaining unaffected provisions hereof.  No provision of this article shall serve to validate any activity otherwise prohibited by state or local law or lawfully enacted zoning regulations.