Park policies changed

Tucumcari city officials have changed park policies after residents raised concerns about registered sex offenders attending youth sports events.

"This is a matter we need to deal with now," Commissioner Daniel Lopez said Tuesday. "We need to make sure we do all we can to make sure our children are safe."

Lopez, along with Mayor Amiel Curnutt and City Manager Doug Powers, received a call that registered sex offenders have been seen in dugouts at Jennings Field during girls softball games.

The city-owned park is the host site for Tucumcari High's baseball and softball teams, along with city league softball and Little League baseball games. Officials wouldn't comment on what level of softball game was being hosted when the alleged sex offenders were spotted.

Powers said background checks are conducted by the city manager and the recreation director on all coaches working with children in city sports leagues. He spoke with the Tucumcari Police Department, and said, "as hard as it may sound, we have to check if they are breaking a law (by being in the park or dugout)."

Tucumcari Police Chief Jason Braziel said each case is different for registered sex offenders, with some ordered to have no contact whatsoever with children and others given no specifications beyond registration.

Powers has issued a memorandum of understanding to all coaches and assistants in youth sports leagues.

"Only coaches and players will be allowed on the field and in the dugouts, during practice and games," Powers said. "Anyone who is going to be in the dugout must first pass a background check."

Recreation Director Scott Simpson said signs have now been placed at the fields, stating that only players and coaches are allowed into the dugouts.

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