Last month, the South Portland City Council voted unanimously to adopt residency rules on where convicted sex offenders can live in relation to schools (“South Portland approves restrictions on some sex offenders,” May 19).
Following this vote, one has to wonder why Portland has no such limits.
The truth is that Portland considered similar limits in 2010, after parents of students at Portland High School raised concerns over the high concentration of convicted sex offenders living next to the school, but the Portland City Council believed that many sex offenders do not represent an immediate threat to children and that regulating their residency may drive them underground.
At that time, James Craig was the chief of police in Portland, and he proposed changing the ordinance to prohibit only the most dangerous of sex offenders from living in close proximity to Portland schools. However, the council did not even consider this proposal and it was allowed to die in committee.
At this time, if a sex offender who was considered a threat to children were released from prison and wished to take up residence next to one of Portland’s schools, the city would have no recourse.
Although the Portland City Council offered no regulation to enhance the safety of children in Portland, it has moved on to regulate several other pressing matters.
For example, it has passed regulations concerning how long one may legally idle their vehicle in Portland and whether or not you can smoke a cigarette in city parks, and it just banned polystyrene foam coffee cups.
Parents of school-aged Portland children might feel slighted that no practical steps have been taken to increase the security of their children, but they can rest assured that the Portland City Council’s reputation as an extremely liberal political body is quite secure.