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Ferguson hits city for failing to monitor registered sex offenders

Registered sex offenders must stay away from some areas, such as school playgrounds, but the city lacks adequate procedures to make sure that the work duties of city employees who are on that list allow them to follow those guidelines on the job. | Sun-Times file photo

At least eight “registered sex offenders” have worked as city employees since 2003, but City Hall has no way of knowing whether they work near children or follow other legal restrictions, Inspector General Joe Ferguson concluded in a report issued Monday.

Sex offenders must register with local police departments. It is illegal for them to be near schools, school bus stops, playgrounds or parks where children are present.

In his quarterly report released Monday, Ferguson said an investigation by his office revealed that, since 2003, there have been “at least eight individuals who have been, for some period of time, registered sex offenders while actively employed by the city.”

Far more troubling than the number of city employees registered as sex offenders is the inspector general’s claim that the city “lacks an adequate system to ensure that the work duties of any such employees” are properly managed to comply with legal restrictions intended to keep registered sex offenders away from children.

“In at least one of those cases, an employee’s direct supervisors were not aware of the employee’s status, despite the underlying conviction being appropriately disclosed and recorded in … personnel records,” the report states.

“As a consequence, the employee’s supervisors did not consciously manage that employee’s work duties so as to comport with the restrictions imposed on sex offenders, which resulted in the employee being directed to perform work in locations prohibited by the employee’s sex offender status [such as] being knowingly present in or near a school building, public park, school bus stop or playground when there are children present.”

Ferguson recommended that the city make certain that registered sex offenders employed by the city “hold assignments and duties appropriate to their status” and that supervisors “regularly review” those assignments.

The city agreed to do so. All candidates for city jobs will be required to disclose “if they are subject to any laws or court orders that restrict their movements,” the city said. The city will work with union leaders to make certain information is updated annually.

If a background check performed during the hiring process reveals a candidate has been convicted of “an offense which requires registration,” the Department of Human Resources will search the sex offender database to confirm that status.

If a registered sex offender is hired, it will be only after Human Resources works with the hiring department to determine whether the job can be performed with those restrictions, Ferguson’s report states.