[Adopted 3-2-2015 by Ord. No. 1576]
It is the intent of this article to protect the City's compelling interest, promote and protect public health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Gardner by creating areas around locations where children and vulnerable persons congregate in concentrated numbers wherein classified Level 2 and 3 sex offenders are prohibited from loitering. It provides an enforcement tool to our police officers to protect children and vulnerable persons from potential harm. Registered sex offenders pose a clear threat to the children and vulnerable persons because registered sex offenders are more likely than any other type of offender to reoffend. The City desires to add location restrictions to such offenders where state law is silent.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Persons less than 18 years of age.
- CLASSIFIED LEVEL 2 OR 3 SEX OFFENDER
- A person who has been finally classified as a Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender by the Sex Offender Registry Board or its successor under MGL c. 6, §§ 178C through 178P, inclusive, and 803 CMR 1.13, 1.22, and 1.23, as amended from time to time.
- DAY-CARE CENTER
- Any establishment, whether public or private, which provides care for children and is registered with and licensed pursuant to the applicable laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by the Office of Child Care Services.
- DESIGNATED SCHOOL BUS STOP
- A school bus stop designated by a public or private school by publication in a newspaper or general circulation in the City of Gardner or by posting at the site of the school bus stop.
- Standing or waiting around idly, or standing or waiting around without apparent purpose, within 300 feet of a location within a Safety Zone.
- ORGANIZED YOUTH ACTIVITY
- Any activity organized by the City of Gardner or a department or agency thereof, or any church, private school, child-care facility, or other legally recognized entity (i.e., corporation, limited-liability company, or locally registered business), involving one or more children less than 18 years of age and which activity is taking place on property owned by the City of Gardner, a church, private school, child-care facility or place where children frequent (e.g., a library, ball field, park, sports or family recreation facility, religious facility or the like).
- Any building or real estate in the City of Gardner which is owned by the City of Gardner and under the control of the Mayor or a department or agency of the City of Gardner, the City of Gardner School Department, a church, private school, child-care facility or place where children frequent (e.g., a library, ball field, park, sports or family recreation facility, religious facility or the like).
- SAFETY ZONE
- A public or private preschool, elementary, secondary or high school, inclusive of school grounds, designated school bus stop, day-care center, City park or recreational facility, facility for the elderly, organized youth facility and facility for the mentally impaired or the area within 300 feet of any of the above listed places.
Terms. Unless otherwise provided herein and as applicable, terms used in this article have the same meaning as provided in MGL c. 6, § 178C, and 803 CMR 1.03, as amended from time to time.
It shall be unlawful for a classified Level 2 or 3 sex offender to loiter at or within a Safety Zone.
A classified Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender will not be in violation of this article in the following situations:
The individual is a minor involved in an activity taking place in the Safety Zone.
The individual is at his or her place of residence.
The individual is at his or her place of employment.
The individual is serving a sentence in a jail, prison, juvenile facility or other correctional institution or facility that is located within the Safety Zone.
The individual is admitted to and/or subject to an order of commitment at a public or private facility for the care and treatment of mentally ill persons pursuant to MGL c. 123 and the facility is located within the Safety Zone.
The individual is an incapacitated person subject to the guardianship provisions of MGL c. 190B, § 5-301 et seq., residing with his or her guardian or residing within a group residence that is professionally staffed and supervised 24 hours a day and is located within the Safety Zone.
The individual is the parent of a child, which child's participation in an activity in the Safety Zone reasonably requires the attendance of the sex offender as the child's parent in the Safety Zone, but only if the sex offender's presence at the Safety Zone occurs only during the hours of the activity related to the participation by the child.
The individual is walking, driving or traveling through the Safety Zone on his/her way from one location to another destination and does not loiter within the Safety Zone.
The Police Chief and duly sworn police officers shall be responsible for the enforcement of this article.
If a police officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that a classified Level 2 or 3 sex offender is loitering within a Safety Zone as defined in § 525-6, in violation of this article, the officer shall verify the individual's name, address and telephone number. If it is established that the individual is a classified Level 2 or Level 3 sex offender, then the officer should notify said sex offender that he/she is in violation of this article and a criminal complaint may be pursued under this article. Violation of this article is punishable by a fine of $300.
A violation of this article may be enforced by a police officer by noncriminal disposition pursuant to the provisions of MGL c.40, § 21D. Each appearance in a Safety Zone shall be deemed to be a separate offense, even if multiple appearances occur on the same day. The noncriminal penalty for a violation of this article shall be $300.