|For Immediate Release
November 23, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY APPLAUDS LAGUNA HILLS FOR ADOPTING NEW LAW TO KEEP REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS OUT
OF CITY PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS
SANTA ANA – The City of Laguna Hills enacted a law yesterday to create child safety zones to protect children from registered sex offenders in city parks and playgrounds. Laguna Hills City Council voted unanimously, Nov. 22, 2011, to pass the ordinance. Council Member Joel Lautenschleger was not present. The City Council includes Mayor L. Allan Songstad Jr., Mayor pro tem Melody Carruth, and Council Members Lautenschleger, Barbara Kogerman, and Randal Bressett. There will be a second reading of the Ordinance Dec. 13, 2011, making it effective 30 days after that reading.
Orange County District Attorney’s Office Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder was present at the City Council meeting to address public concerns and advocate for the passage of the ordinance.
“Almost a dozen citizens and victim advocates came to the last City Council meeting to voice their opinion and the Council responded unanimously to protect children from sexual predators,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “I join parents and children of Laguna Hills and its surrounding cities to applaud Laguna Hills for taking the leadership by being the first South County city to pass the Child Safety Zone Ordinance.”
“I’m proud of all the citizens who came out to speak up for the safety of our children, and I’m proud of our council for listening,” said Council Member Kogerman. “Tonight’s action to prevent sexual predators from endangering children in our parks is a great victory for the children and families of Laguna Hills.”
Citizen advocates spoke during the meeting, including Erin Runnion, Founding Director of the Joyful Child Foundation, who told the Council, “Every community needs a way to remove sex offender from parks.”
California Penal Code sections 290, et seq. requires 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.
The Laguna Hills City 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 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.