Small town outraged over sex offender EMT

Officials in this town of 13,000 about 30 miles south of Austin have been up in arms since discovering last December that a registered sex offender was working for the city as a firefighter and emergency medical technician.

And the state knew about it.

Lockhart City Manager Vance Rodgers says he felt betrayed when he learned that the state had certified the EMT, Michael Harris, knowing that he twice pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges that he exposed himself to women in New York.

The case is the most visible example of how health officials in Texas for years have allowed some sex offenders to serve as EMTs and paramedics. Records examined by The Associated Press show that at least seven other sex offenders have been certified by the Department of State Health Services, the agency that oversees EMTs. Those seven were each convicted of felonies involving children ranging in age from 6 to 16.

A nationwide survey by the AP found that most states do not have laws expressly prohibiting sex offenders from working as EMTs, but few have actually allowed such individuals to do so.

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