County Commissioner John Tobias is apparently not satisfied with the current state residency statute for those convicted of certain sexual offenses. The existing 1,000 ft. restriction of registrants from schools, daycares and playgrounds doesn’t seem to be “safe enough” for him.
The Commissioner has proposed an ordinance that would also restrict registrants from certain businesses, an “expansion of the buffer zone” if you will.
Those businesses that are willing, can “voluntarily” sign up to be put on a registry, registrants would then be required to maintain a 1,000 ft. distance from any business on the registry. Law enforcement would have the ability to arrest, as Commissioner Tobias says “offenders and predators” found within the buffer zone of these businesses.
The potential for harm from this proposed ordinance would be enormous. Now, not only would registrants be denied the day to day activities that other parents participate in, such as taking their children to school or daycare or watching their children play at the playground, now they would also be denied taking their children to stores or other business venues within expanded buffer zones.
Comments made by one business owner (for whom I will not provide free advertising) eager to sign up for the registry, echoed the comments of Commissioner Tobias, he reported he was “happy to be part of a new voluntary registry that “certified” his establishment as a place where children regularly congregate and where “sex offenders and predators” were restricted from coming within 1,000 ft.” According to the business owner, “we’re protecting our kids and community”.
From their similar statements, it appears that both the Commissioner and the business owner seem to view “sex offenders and predators” as all one and the same.
It’s terrible to read news interviews like this one which was done by Spectrum News 13, Orlando, and see how often the terms “sex offenders and predators” are used interchangeably and incorrectly by the general public. The news media never seems to question their use nor do they correct the public’s mis-use of the terms.
Those who want to be on the voluntary registry are being led to believe that anyone working or patronizing a business inside of the sacred buffer zone is a safe person and not a threat, as opposed to those who would be denied access. I suppose a registry “certified safety buffer zone” could be a great marketing tool for their business and I can’t wait to learn how they will “certify” that anyone within the allowed zone is safe. One thing is certain, the business owners that participate in this type of registry are obviously are not interested in any potential revenues lost from decent people who might have patronized their establishments, but can’t, simply due to the fact that they are on a “different registry”.
Something that doesn’t seem to have been addressed yet is businesses that choose not to be on the “voluntary registry” but happen to be located within the same 1000ft buffer zone of a business on the registry. Maybe those businesses would welcome ex-offenders as patrons of their establishments, but if registrants can’t breach a common buffer zone, what happens then? Seems there’s a few glitches in this ordinance proposal that haven’t yet been considered.
It’s only a matter of time, since most brick and mortar schools are closed due to the pandemic and children are being educated at home, before some county official with too much time on their hands, declares that “homes should be considered schools” and “sex offender buffer zones” need to be expanded even further.
If we allow the further expansion of restriction zones, soon there will be no place left for those on the “punitive registry” to go.
This agenda item will go before the Brevard County Commission next Tuesday. I hope there are some sensible business owners who will vote down the “voluntary business registry” idea.