City gets tough on sex offenders

DOWNEY - The City Council Tuesday unanimously voted to introduce an ordinance that toughens residency restrictions for convicted sex offenders who choose to reside in Downey.City attorney Ed Lee called the move "mostly supplemental" to the state's version of Jessica's Law, which was overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2006 and forbids sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. While state law only applies to sex offenders on parole, the city's ordinance would apply to all convicted sex offenders - parole or not, said Capt. Jim McCulloch of the Downey Police Department. Downey's ordinance also creates a "child safety zone" that further restricts sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a child care center or public library; sharing the same house, apartment or hotel room as another sex offender, unless related by blood; or loitering near a "child safety zone with the intent to commit a sex offense." Violators would be subject to a misdemeanor arrest. McCulloch said there are many areas within Downey where sex offenders could live under the new law. "There are a number of places where they can go, yeah," McCulloch said. The ordinance will not be applied retroactively, meaning sex offenders already living in the city won't be affected. According to the state's Megan's Law website, 106 registered sex offenders currently reside in Downey. Coincidentally, Downey Police arrested a convicted sex offender on Tuesday, hours before the City Council cast their votes. Arturo Martinez, 32, was arrested after Downey High School administrators allegedly spotted him emerging from a girls bathroom on campus. Administrators attempted to question Martinez but he ran, McCulloch said. School officials managed to restrain him until police arrived. No injuries were reported. Martinez was on probation and had a warrant out for his arrest, McCulloch said. As of Wednesday, he was being held without bail and awaiting arraignment. Introduced by Mayor Mario Guerra, the new ordinance is expected to be formally adopted when the City Council meets again Aug. 11.

********** Published: July 31, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 15