YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — The Yakima City Council has voted to ban sex offenders from using city swimming pools, a move allowed under a little-used 2006 state law.
City officials believe the ban approved Tuesday is a first under a Washington trespass law that allows cities and other entities such as schools, libraries and day-care centers to ban certain sex offenders from pools, parks, playgrounds and other facilities with the primary purpose of educating or caring for children.
“This is just one protection that we feel is important,” said Councilwoman Kathy Coffey, who pushed for the policy. “We're doing what we can to protect the youth of our city.”
The pre-emptive application of the law, rather than on a case-by-case basis, could draw a civil rights challenge, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.
The ban applies only to Level 2 or Level 3 sex offenders whose crimes involved children.
There are about 50 sex offenders residing within city limits and another 50 in the Upper Valley who qualify for the ban, interim police Chief Greg Copeland told the council.
A detective already assigned to track sex offenders would add notifications to his caseload and update the list on a quarterly basis, Copeland said. Process servers will ensure notifications are made in person.
City officials became aware in December that a Level 3 sex offender had been swimming at Lions Pool, one of the city's two municipal pools. The other is Franklin Pool.
The 49-year-old man attended a budget hearing at City Hall because he had heard a rumor the council was considering closing Lions Pool. Then-police Chief Sam Granato recognized the man, who has a history of run-ins with police. The man was convicted of attempting to molest an 8-year-old girl in 1996.
Many states ban registered sex offenders from living close to or loitering at schools and other places frequented by children.