News 12 at 6 o'clock; June 20, 2008
AIKEN, S.C. -- South Carolina is trying to keep up with Georgia with a new sex offender law. It'll start to be enforced 90 days after the state database is updated.
News 12 went to a local park to talk to parents, who say they're trying to let their kids have fun while still being safe. Some of them say they wonder if this new law will actually be enforced.
"We need to keep them as far away from our children as possible. These days, you can't tell anything, you have to watch it all," said Bruce Huckabee, father of two-year-old Nicholas.
The new law says sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of a school, daycare, recreational facility, park or public playground.
"It needs to go farther, but I don't know how police officers are going to enforce it," says Bruce.
"I would hope they could (enforce it), but I also think that it's important for us as citizens to help them out. They got a lot to do," says James Rush.
"If they make the law, then they should do the best of their ability to enforce it and I hope that is what they are intending to do," says April Golden.
The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says that's exactly what they intend to do. They will let sex offenders know of the new law when they register and they'll check the address the offender gives them with a GIS mapping system to make sure the address isn't within the restricted distance.
Still, Bruce is skeptical. "There are too many people and not enough officers to keep the law, so that's where we need to work with each other."
"Ultimately, it's up to the parents to monitor their children, to know who their friends are, to know who their parents are and their families," says April.
So, it seems parents feel it's a balancing act between them making sure their kids are safe and law enforcement actually enforcing the law.
The new law does grandfather in sex offenders and doesn't force them to move if one of the restricted areas open up after the law is effective.
Aiken County was looking at an ordinance of their own, not allowing offenders to loiter within 1,000 feet of places minors congregate.