Commissioner Diaz applauds final passage of SB528 to improve tracking of sexual offenders
(MIAMI) – Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz is applauding the Florida Legislature’s final passage of legislation that will improve law enforcement’s ability to keep tabs on sexual offenders. SB528 passed the Senate on March 20 by a vote of 39-0.
The bill will require sexual predators and offenders who claim no permanent address to establish a transient residence and report their location to the County Sheriff’s Office every 30 days – instead of every four or six months as under current law. Failure to comply with the bill’s requirements could lead to third-degree felony charges. The governor has seven days to sign the bill into law.
“This much-needed change in the law is a big victory for our children’s safety because it means sexual offenders will no longer be able to fly under the radar,” Commissioner Diaz said.
The bill’s passage represents the culmination of months of hard work and lobbying by Commissioner Diaz to close a major loophole in state law that was allowing a growing number of sexual offenders to escape law enforcement oversight by claiming homeless or “transient” status, thus making their whereabouts unknown.
Commissioner Diaz began strategizing with the Miami-Dade Police Department and legal staff on how best to address the issue last year when it was first brought to his attention. The idea of enhancing the state’s reporting requirements developed from several meetings with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and conference calls with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The Commissioner then worked with the County Attorney’s Office to develop language for a proposed state bill and began lobbying for its passage before the League of Cities and the Sheriffs Association. He also sponsored a Jan. 22 County Commission resolution urging the state to make the change in the law.
Commissioner Diaz has already begun working on the next step in his campaign to improve tracking of sexual offenders. He is now seeking sponsors in the Florida Legislature to file a bill in the next session to require sexual offenders and predators who claim to be transient to wear a GPS device to enable real-time monitoring of their location.