Child Safety Zones proposed at bus stops
Alexander County Commissioners held a public hearing at their March 7, 2022, meeting on a proposed county ordinance to establish child safety zones in Alexander County.
Sheriff Chris Bowman said he received a call several months ago from a concerned parent regarding a registered sex offender parking at school bus stops. Detectives Buddy McKinney and Dennis Foster started investigating the matter, and discovered that the state statute doesn’t include bus stops in the “sex offender unlawfully on premises” section. Sheriff Bowman said that Henderson County has adopted an ordinance to establish child safety zones, and Iredell County is considering adopting a similar ordinance.
Detective McKinney said the number one goal of the ordinance is the safety of children and to be able to enforce the prevention of loitering at bus stops.
He noted there are 86 registered sex offenders in Alexander County.
Commissioners expressed their concern about the problem and confirmed their support of the ordinance.
A special meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 21, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom video conference to vote on the ordinance.
If indeed a registered offender was hanging around a school bus stop, then police should have a conversation with that person. I say if because the article says “a” parent called about “a” registerd person. If this parent knows that the person was a registrant, he would be easily recognizable. For all we know, this registrant may be at the bus stop to pick up his own child.
Two statistics are important. First about 93% of sex crimes against children are perpetrated by someone known to and trusted by the child. This includes parents, other family members, coaches, clergy, etc. The second important number is that 95% of former offenders never sexually reoffend. Taken together, this implies that a child is in greater danger from persons attending a backyard barbecue than from the registrant down the street.
I suspect that the report was filed by a single hysterical parent who is uninformed. Don’t let fear and predjudice trump data and rationality. Creating a blanket ordinance may gain commissioners political points, but will serve no other purpose nor will it enhance public safety.
While the subject may seem frightening, even terrorizing, to some people, let’s ask a few questions first:
1. First, did the detectives look into the person that was parked there, if there was someone actually parked there? Did this lady just say that there was a registrant there?
2. Stipulating that there was someone there, and in fact that person was a registrant: Could that person actually have been dropping off his child, and like a responsible parent, been waiting for the bus to arrive to ensure his child’s safety?
3. Bus stops are changed every year, depending on the student residences and schools they attend. So will the area of jurisdiction for the ordinance have to be changed as well?
4. What area defines the bus stop? 10 feet? 20? 200? A mile? And what constitutes the time period where a registrant is banned from the area? Only time period windows? What about weekends, holidays, short school days, snow days?
5. What will constitute the “unlawful present on premises” violation? 10 minutes? 5 minutes? What if he’s on the phone and has to park to talk or text to avoid safety violations? Or even stopped for a train or other emergency?
6. What help will this ordinance be? When 90% of child amber alerts are usually about parents or child family members, which corresponds to a more likely suspect pool than registrants, wouldn’t this law be a bit more difficult to effectively enforce?
These are all questions that normally are asked in anything other than those involving registrants on a sex offender registry. But the bottom line is that all laws that result from the Internet presence of the registry evolve around the FEARS and DISGUST the people have for registrants in general, and that is why virtually every law evolves around that unscientific fact. And while it seems I’m defending “sex offenders,” think about how the laws can suddenly be switched to snag previously innocent behaviors of other individuals. January 6 comes to mind.
Was this complaint investigated and found to be true? Seriously, was it? Did they find the person. If ANYONE is continually parking and stalking an area or children, they should be investigated. Would not be difficult if what this person says is true. Second, what if a registrant has a child they take to a bus stop. Are they not allowed to now? Is that child now not allowed the protection of their parent while they wait for the bus?
Does it not occur to anyone that the person may have been dropping off or waiting for their own child?
Children starting at the age of 11 with a sex offense are put on the registry. So what about a child who is THE registrant? Can they no longer take the school bus as a result?
Do they not realize that these bus stops change weekly, I know my kids bus stop has changed 4 times in a school year. One time the bus stop was next to a metro bus stop, the parents didn’t mind I was there fending off the junkies and homeless away from their kids on a daily basis. If they only knew I was RC, I wonder if they would still appreciate me?
If this passes, then the school bus stop locations and the school bus schedules must be published and easily available to EVERY registered sex offender in the USA. If that really what the county wants? Does the county really want to provide that list? Does sheriff Bowman want to compile and provide this list? Finally and most importantly, do the parents of children that ride those school buses want the county to provide this list to every single registered sex offender?