"Registered sex offenders see fewer places to work, live

"Patrick Johnston , Times Record NewsPublished 10:45 a.m. CT Jan. 15, 2017

Almost 11 years ago, the Wichita Falls City Council chose to limit where a registered sex offender could live within the city limits as a way to safeguard the children of the city.

The ordinance, which was passed by a unanimous vote on April 4, 2006, prohibits any registered sex offender with a victim under the age of 17 from living in an estimated 80 to 85 percent of Wichita Falls if they weren’t already living there before the new law passed.

It states that they can’t live within 1,000 feet – from property line to property line – of public or private schools; youth centers; certain child-care facilities; and public parks, including the Circle Trail. If the victim was 17 or older, the ordinance restrictions do not apply.

The Wichita Falls Police Department maintains a database that Detective Sammy Motsenbocker likened to a “living document” with the exact locations affected by the child safety zones. As locations that meet the criteria of the ordinance are opened, he said the child safety zones are added.

“If a part of the property line gets caught in the zone, the entire property falls into the zone,” Motsenbocker said.

If the person lived in the house before the ordinance was approved, they are still allowed to live there as long as they don’t move from that residence.

“As long as they don’t move, they are grandfathered in,” Motsenbocker said. “… For the state of Texas and registration reasons, they say seven days – whether voluntary or not – is considered a move.”

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