At the city council meeting members voted to make the rule stricter. The proposal first intended for the worst offenders -- which include class three offenders, or those deemed most to re-offend -- now will apply to anyone who is on the sex offender registry. The local law will restrict sex offenders from residing within 500 feet of any school or licensed childcare facility, property line to property line.
It only applies to convicted sex offenders who move into Kearney or move to a new Kearney address after this measure passed. A failure to comply with the restriction would result in a misdemeanor. Bruce Lear, a council member and father, believes passing this measure was for the best to protect the community.
"When you look at Nebraskans in general there aren't a lot of us that think a lot differently and I think we all look at wanting to protect our residents and particularly our youth in the community, and that is really what was the driving force behind what we did tonight," he said. City leaders hadn't held a public meeting on this issue before Tuesday's meeting but decided to put together an ordinance after citizens requested it. Council members agree this was a chance to create better separation, or at least the maximum separation allowed under state law. "There have been some situations in other communities that border Iowa, for example that Nebraska has a lot less restriction so everybody moves across the river. I know that it was discussed and debated in Lincoln because of course where do you draw the line, and the other side of the story is if not here, then where," said Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse. A study conducted by the Journal of Criminal Justice and Behavior discovered despite a lack of evidence that the rules do anything, these local ordinances on sex offenders are becoming more popular. The research also showed the proximity of a sex offender to schools or daycare's has no impact. It looks like some of this is spreading to parts of central Nebraska. NTV reported last week that Holdrege is also looking at passing a similar law as well.