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120 sexual predators, offenders in one neighborhood and the number keeps growing

Neighbors: Tampa Police not enforcing ordinance
Posted at 8:08 PM, Feb 21, 2017

Nearly 120 sexual predators and offenders are living in just a one mile radius. Families in the Tampa neighborhood are fed up. They're demanding city leaders do something about it.

Tonight, ABC Action News is taking action. We're tracking down city leaders and getting answers.

In just a month and a half five sexual predators made the neighborhood around North Nebraska Avenue their new home.

“No one as far as I know has this issue besides V.M. Ybor," said Kelly Grimsdale. She's the former president of the V.M. Ybor Neighborhood Association.

Her concerns become clearer once you look at a map. Just a mile from her home live 32 sexual predators and 118 sexual offenders. But within this mile, 40 of them are living in just two boarding homes. It’s an effect called clustering.

ABC Action News went there to speak with the owners and tenants.They kicked us out. Their attorney says they're following the law. Also sending us a letter from Tampa Police Department commending the work of the boarding home as an asset toward monitoring sexual offenders and predators.

Their attorney also points toward a U.S. Department of Justice 2015 report that found "...the evidence if fairly clear that residence restrictions are not effective."

“You are concerned, you are concerned for your family," said city council member, Frank Reddick. He's been vocal about clustering, in the past. He says he's not aware of the report but will look into it further.

However, there is an anti-clustering county ordinance which prohibits more than one sexual predator per property. We called the city's attorney, Salvatore Territo, and confirmed it also applies to Tampa.

A spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says they are enforcing the ordinance outside city limits. TPD said their agency is not.

“Why would you put these people into our neighborhood when there is a possibility that they could harm our children?" asked Grimsdale.

This is an issue she's been fighting for more than a year. But Tampa PD says they have the power to decide how “Aggressively to enforce an ordinance.”

“I don’t think law enforcement should be the judge and jury," said Reddick, "I think if there’s an ordinance in place you took the oath to protect those.”

Likewise, council chairman Mike Suarez said he was "surprised" to hear TPD is not enforcing it. Suarez and Reddick calling for more discussion between council and the police department.

Tampa PD says when predators are in groups together it makes it easier to monitor them and therefore keep the community safe. Grimsdale disagrees. Meanwhile, councilman Reddick insists he's putting this issue on the agenda and is asking TPD to come before them.

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