updated 6/1/2004 6:14:23 PM ET 2004-06-01T22:14:23

Oklahoma police vary in how they will enforce a recent law prohibiting registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools.

Oklahoma City police say they will not arrest sex offenders for living within that distance if the offender was convicted of a sexual offense before Nov. 1 _ when the law took effect.

Police in Tulsa and Owasso say they're not sure how they'll address the law, citing legal questions about whether the law applies to offenders convicted before it took effect.

A legislative measure that would have specifically exempted most currently registered offenders promised to clear up the issue, but lawmakers rejected it May 21. The Legislature adjourned Friday.

The current law makes it "unlawful for any person registered pursuant to the Oklahoma Sex Offenders Registration Act to reside within a 2,000-foot radius of any public or private school site or educational institution."

"Nothing in this provision shall require any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any real estate or home acquired or owned prior to the conviction of the person as a sex offender," the law continues.

"If they were there prior to the law being enacted, they are grandfathered in," Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Gary Knight said, in explaining his department's approach.

But police in Tulsa are seeking help from legal counsel in interpreting the law. Once the opinion is in, the law will be enforced "as quickly as possible," said Tulsa Police Cpl. Randy Lawmaster

Records reviewed by the Tulsa World show that about a third of the nearly 700 registered sex offenders in Tulsa County live within 2,000 feet of a school.

Owasso police are also wondering what to do about registered sex offenders there who live too near schools. The World says at least two offenders there live within the safety zone.

"We're all in the same boat: waiting to see if we have to make people move out," said Sue Blevins, an Owasso police records clerk.

Owasso has already enforced the law regarding an offender convicted after Nov. 1. The offender was asked to move, Blevins said.


Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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