On May 26, 2011, Westminster became the first Orange County City to enact law to create child safety zones to protect children from registered sex offenders.
“The City Council is not trying to take away anyone’s rights. We are simply trying to protect our children,” stated Mayor Rice.
The Westminster City Ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for any person required to register as a sex offender under California law to enter into or upon any City of Westminster park where children regularly gather, without written permission from the Westminster Police Department. Violators may be punished with up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
“I am thrilled that the City of Westminster is the first to stop convicted sex offenders from utilizing public parks and recreational facilities regardless of the stipulations of their probation or parole. It is so important that we rally to insist that the rights of our children come before those of convicted predators,” stated Founder of the Joyful Child Foundation Erin Runnion.
The Foundation was founded in 2002 by Erin Runnion, the mother of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion, who was abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered by Alejandro Avila. He was convicted of special circumstances murder and sentenced to the death in 2005.
“I hope other Cities join Westminster and take a stand to protect children from dangerous sex offenders,” stated Supervisor Shawn Nelson. “A gap in the law was identified and now Westminster Police has the authority they need to remove registered sex offenders from children’s play areas.”
District Attorney Rackauckas first proposed such an ordinance to the Orange County Board of Supervisors and urged its passing. Rackauckas commended the work of the Westminster City Council.
“I hope parents of Westminster join me in commending Westminster Mayor Rice, Mayor Pro Tem Diep, and City Council Members Quach and Ta for taking a big step in creating a safety zone for our children and keeping sex offenders out of Westminster parks,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas. “By being the first city to pass the child safety zone ordinance, Westminster is a leader in protecting children from dangerous sex offenders.”