The city of Upper Arlington is considering tougher restrictions on sex offenders.

The city of Upper Arlington is considering tougher restrictions on sex offenders.

In March 2007, city council adopted legislation that barred convicted sex offenders from living or working within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers, preschools, swimming pools, libraries, playgrounds and parks.

The city is considering new enforcement strategies that would keep certain convicted sex offenders from even visiting local parks. In response to a July 11 incident in which a convicted sex offender approached two young girls in the vicinity of Sandover and Coach roads and asked them to read a comic book with him, city attorney Jeanine Amid Hummer researched laws around the country that restrict offenders' ability to enter parks.

"It is an area of law that is evolving each and every day," Hummer reported at city council's meeting Monday night.

Hummer said she and her staff broke up their research into three areas: anti-loitering statutes, outright bans from parks, and enforcement of existing trespassing ordinances that target individuals with a history of inappropriate behavior with minors.

Of the three areas, anti-loitering statues are the most difficult to enforce, Hummer said.

"Loitering laws in themselves are very difficult because it looks at your intent, are you present for a legitimate purpose," she said.

Communities across the country have been successful in enforcing outright bans, but such restrictions may not stand up in Ohio courts, Hummer said.

"In Ohio, there was a Supreme Court case that had an outright ban for drug offenders," which the court struck down on the grounds that it was a violation of interstate travel guidelines, Hummer said.

The strategy that seems the most legally defensible is enforcement of existing trespassing ordinances, Hummer said.

"Similar to the right somebody has to control their home, a city has a right to control their parks," she said.

Hummer said she plans to work with Upper Arlington police to devise strategies targeting sex offenders who should be kept out of parks.

"We together will look at the ability of what happened recently where it appears someone does not have a legitimate purpose for being in the park so they are not allowed to enter the city parks and if they do enter the park, they will be charged" with trespassing, Hummer said.

Another option to explore is a new area of the law that designates "children's safety zones," such as parks and schools.

"It's very difficult to enter a school without signing in and providing notice," Hummer said. "Maybe the schools can work on patrolling the outside of their schools as well. In other words, you're not allowed to be on school property without a legitimate purpose."

Hummer said she plans to monitor over the next year how children's safety zone laws are enforced around the country and will report back to council when she can determine if such laws could be adopted in Upper Arlington.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com