The Anaheim City Council voted unanimously to enact an ordinance yesterday to expand child safety zones to protect children from registered sex offenders in city parks. The Ordinance, which was originally introduced by Councilwoman Kris Murray, becomes effective in 30 days. The City Council also includes Mayor Tom Tait, Mayor pro tem Harry S Sidhu, P.E., and Council Members Gail E. Eastman and Lorri Galloway.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder, and Erin Runnion, Founder of the Joyful Child Foundation and mother of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion, who was murdered in 2002, were present at the City Council meeting to address public concerns and advocate for the passage of the ordinance. State Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) also spoke at the meeting and endorsed the Ordinance.
“The City Council put public safety first and stood up for children by creating these child safety zones,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas. “I would like to thank the Anaheim City Council members for their courage and conviction in voting for this Ordinance to make Anaheim a safer place for children and their parents.”
“Public Safety is our primary concern in the City of Anaheim,” said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait. “The action taken last night is to protect children from potential offenses, and to reduce the risk of harm to them. We are pleased to stand alongside our neighboring cities in Orange County for the welfare of children.”
“Protecting our children is one of my highest priorities,” said Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Harry Sidhu. “With this ordinance, if we can protect even one child, we will have made a meaningful difference in our community.”
“The ordinance adopted by the City Council puts children and families first and ensures our parks are safe havens from sexual predators in the City of Anaheim,” said Council Member Kris Murray. “It’s important we remain vigilant as a community to protect our children citywide.”
California Penal Code sections 290, et seq. require individuals convicted of certain crimes to register as sex offenders. The registration process is used to ensure that such offenders shall be readily available for police surveillance at all times because such offenders are deemed likely to commit similar offenses in the future. Sex offender registrants are also banned from entering County recreational and city parks which have passed the Sex Offender Ordinance.
The Anaheim Ordinance was modeled after the County Ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the Orange County Board of Supervisors April 5, 2011, and took effect May 5, 2011, to create a child safety zone to further protect children from registered sex offenders in County parks and harbors.
The Anaheim Ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for any sex offender from entering any City Park. The County Ordinance was developed and proposed by District Attorney Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson (Fourth District) and makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine, for registered sex offenders to enter County recreational areas where children regularly gather without permission from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who enforce the Ordinance.
After enacting the County Ordinance, District Attorney Rackauckas, Chairman of the Board Bill Campbell, and County Supervisors Nelson, Patricia Bates, and Janet Nguyen sent letters to each Orange County city encouraging them to consider a similar ordinance for their city parks.
In the past year, the Cities of Westminster, Irvine, La Habra, Los Alamitos, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Seal Beach, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, and Fountain Valley passed similar ordinances, and other cities are currently in the process of developing a similar ordinance.
To read the full County Ordinance, please visit www.orangecountyda.com and select the April 5, 2011, press release entitled, “Orange County Board of Supervisors Unanimously Votes to Adopt New Law to Keep Registered Sex Offenders Out of Parks, Harbors, Beaches and Playgrounds,” under Press Releases/Media Advisories.