Sex offender laws and other measures protect school students -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Sex offender laws, other measures protect students

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Georgia has some of the toughest sex offender laws in the country. Registered offenders can't live or work within a thousand feet of anywhere children congregate.

In Dougherty County, the school system takes it a step further with extra training for school resource officers and even crossing guards. School safety zones are a part of those measures. Crossing guard get kids safely through traffic, but they're also trained to watch out for anything suspicious.

Now, officials at this school are sending a letter home to parents not trying to alarm them but to encourage them to report any activity out of the ordinary.

Even in the rain, eight year veteran crossing guard Dorothy Daniels was out making sure any kid walking home is safe. She watches them as far as she can.

"When they come across going to the school I can see them when they turn off to the school, but once they get that way I can only see them for a certain distance," said Dorothy Daniels, DCSS Crossing Guard.

She saw the van driving back and forth this week, and if she had seen it approach the boys.

"I would have reported it," said Daniels.

Along with school resource officers they're just one line of defense the schools use to keep students safe.

"We have security systems that have been over the last few years put into our schools. We have digital recordings, a video that happens throughout campuses and buses," said R.D. Harter, DCSS Public Information Officer.

The state legislature has also done its part prohibiting the state's 16,000 sex offenders from living, working, or loitering within a thousand feet of schools

"Anywhere children congregate under Georgia Law such as parks, churches, and day care facilities those are places that are prohibited for sex offenders to live within a thousand feet of," said Christopher Cohilas, Chief Assistant District Attorney.

They've also increased the penalties for repeat offenders. The schools say they can't do it alone they need the community's help.

"We have to look out for them for their safety," said Daniels.

Encouraging anyone who sees something suspicious to report it immediately.

School Police Assistance Chief J.C. Phillips will be at Northside Elementary on Friday to discuss the danger of drugs for Red Ribbon week, but he'll also talk to the students about this incident and how important it is to stay away from strangers.

The Dougherty County School System told us they'll continue to maintain a high level of attention around schools and hope the community will continue to work with the district to keep students safe.

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