TEMPLE, TX — Parents are worried for the safety of their children in Temple. They say the City has lax regulations on convicted sex offenders, and known predators are living dangerously close to where their children hang out.
"I don't want my city becoming a mecca for sex offenders," said parent Ryan Beimer.
He has two children and says while taking them to play at a nearby park, he was warned by another parent of predators in living in the area.
"I got online and started looking at the sex offender registry, and yes there is a sex offender that lives within 200 feet of the playground," said Beimer.
And it's not by mistake. It turns out the City of Temple does not have ordinances requiring convicted sex offenders to live outside of child-populated areas like schools or parks.
"They've shown they can't make good judgments, and we have an obligation to protect our children," said Beimer.
Beimer says other parents may not know of the danger, and children playing in the street or walking home are easy targets for predators.
"That's what scares me too is when I look at Temple versus Killeen, a city twice our size, we have as many sex offenders living here. Killeen has enacted restrictions. Temple has not," said Beimer.
In Temple, there are nearly 300 registered sex offenders living feet within reach of children. Now Beimer wants the City to establish restrictions known as "child safety zones," which would prevent convicted sex offenders form living within 1000 feet of areas where children congregate, like schools, parks, and bus stops.
"Our kids deserve to have a childhood. They have enough to worry about already. We don't need to add more," said Beimer.
The Temple Police Department released the following statement:
"The City of Temple currently does not have any ordinances in place limiting where sex offenders can live, however there are other regulations in place for residence, specifically in relation to where children are. If the offender is not under any type of supervision, such as probation or parole, then they must comply with state registration laws. If they are on probation or parole, then they must follow state registration laws and the regulations of their parole or probation. If there is a failure to follow any these regulations, then that individual could face federal or state charges, depending on the severity of their initial charge."
Sex offenders must disclose current living addresses, contact information, and current places of employment. They must also come into the department to check in once a year or more as designated by the court. Our Community Oriented Policing Services Unit and investigators do home visits to verify that the addresses given are accurate and that the individual is in compliance.
Concerned parents can search for any registered sex offenders on the Texas Department of Public Safety’s website. TPD also urges the public to contact the department immediately should they feel that their child’s safety is at risk.
But parents like Beimer say they want more done before a child becomes a victim.
"So I'm just encouraging city council to get it on the books. I don't expect an ordinance tomorrow morning, but let's get the ball rolling and make it happen as quickly as we can and protect our kids," he said.