Lawton_It's often one of the best parts of a kid's say - the time when the ice cream truck visits the neighborhood or park. It's an age-old tradition that most parents find harmless, but police and state lawmakers worry that some ice-cream men could be sex offenders who use their job to prey on unsuspecting children. The Oklahoma Senate is considering a bill that would outlaw sex offenders from dishing out frozen treats to kids across the state.
Ice-cream truck vendor could be the perfect job for a child predator, and while Lawton Police say they have never worked a case involving an ice-cream man doing anything bad to a kid, they say the might never have to do that if this bill passes.
As temperatures rise, you certainly will see-and-hear more trucks rolling through the neighborhood. "You're supposed to be able trust the ice cream man - they've been around for years," said ice cream vendor Krystal Deak. Paul's Ice Cream already has taken steps to protect its customers from bad guys. "We still do the background checks anyway, to make sure there are no sex offenders, or any felony warrants, or any other crimes they've committed," said Teak. "If there is, they're not going to drive."
Not every company is so cautious, which is why police sometimes worry. "The way the ice cream trucks operate, they're just strolling up and down the roads" said Lawton Police Detective Nancy Lombardo. "It gives them opportunities to watch for kids, to maybe even see where these kids live, see how supervised they are. They could bring them into the van and do something with them, so we don't want anything like that happening."
State lawmakers already have banned sex offenders from working at schools and daycares, and now are trying to cover as many bases as possible. While it's vendor Teak's business that's in the spotlight, she says she also thinks about her own kids. "I wouldn't want a sex offender selling ice cream to my kids," she said.
So far, police say they know of no children in Lawton who have been abused by ice cream vendors. Detectives say they have, however, arrested two sex offender in the past couple of days. One of those arrested is from northeastern Oklahoma, and the other is from the Lawton area. Both failed to register as sex offenders and were taken to jail. The ice cream truck bill also would require drivers to get a permit from the Oklahoma State Department of Health if passed by lawmakers and signed by the Governor. Some cities - such as Lawton - already require a permit.