LANCASTER – All registered sex offenders should be watched on Halloween night – not just those who are on parole. So said Commissioner Jim Gaupel at the Criminal Justice Commission meeting Wednesday.
Gaupel, an employee of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, was one of several officers who took part in Operation Boo on October 31st, a Halloween enforcement operation targeting sex-offender parolees in the Antelope Valley.
“It’s the 18th year we have done it in a row… we put conditions of parole on the parolees that they cannot partake in any festivities for Halloween; they have to have their light off, they have to not pass out any candy, no Halloween gear or anything to have kids come to their house,” Gaupel told the Commission. “Out of the 75 locations [visited], even though the parolees knew we were coming to the house, six of them still went into custody.”
Gaupel said Operation Boo, which targets only those sex offenders who are on parole, may not sufficiently address the problem.
“In Lancaster we have 484 sex offenders, approximately 95 of those are on parole,” said Gaupel. “That means 400 other sex offenders are not being watched on Halloween night.”
Gaupel suggested that the City adopt an ordinance similar to the City of Ontario (in Riverside County) that prohibits any registered sex offender from partaking in Halloween night, regardless of their parole status.
On October 18, 2011, the Ontario City Council voted to adopt an ordinance restricting registered sex offenders from actively soliciting children to their home during Halloween, including decorating their homes inside or outside in celebration of Halloween, as well as displaying decorative lighting and answering the front door of their homes during that evening.
Any person that violates the Ontario ordinance is subject to a fine up to $1,000 and/or six months in jail.
Gaupel suggested that the Lancaster Criminal Justice Commission review the ordinance for the possibility of adopting a similar ordinance in Lancaster.
“We can possible look at the ordinance and put it on the agenda next month and maybe vote on it and send it up to the City Council,” said Gaupel.
City officials agreed to bring copies of the Ontario ordinance for closer examination by the Criminal Justice Commission at its next meeting on December 14, 2011.