Police department plans meeting to tackle topic of sex offenders
DICKINSON - A public meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday to quash rumors, dispel myths and address concerns about sex offender registration, community notification and related issues, said Dickinson Police Chief Chuck Rummel.
"I understand the public's being very leery about having them in the neighborhood. If I had children, I'd feel the same way," Rummel said.
Investigator Amanda McNamee, who monitors sex offenders in the city, said the department received complaints following an April 5 article in The Press notifying residents that a high-risk sex offender had moved to Dickinson.
"Basically, people were wondering why we (the department) ... allowed the high-risk sex offender to move into town," she said.
McNamee said the department cannot prevent a sex offender from coming to Dickinson: "Basically, it's not up to us."
Another motivation for holding the meeting is to discuss housing for sex offenders. Property managers have declined to rent to the high-risk sex offender who moved to town this month, Rummel said.
"We'd like to work with these managers that rent to find the best-suited location for individuals that do come into our town," Rummel said.
The occupants of the residence where the sex offender is staying are to be evicted on April 30, McNamee said.
"It's not just because of him (the sex offender); it's due to some other issues that they had. It's not just him, but this is kind of the straw," she said.
When sex offenders do not have stable residences, they are more difficult to track, Rummel said.
"People don't want these people (sex offenders) living in their neighborhood, and what they don't understand is that if they're not in a home ... they're going to be parked ... in front of your house," he said.
McNamee, Officer Ron Vandoorne, Parole Officer Deb Kohler and Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning are expected to be on hand for the 7 p.m. meeting in City Hall.
Attendants will be given an explanation of how the Dickinson Police keeps track of sex offenders, a general overview of the state laws concerning sex offenders and a chance to ask questions, McNamee said.
"It's not going to be about a certain offender, it's going to be about sex offenders in general," McNamee said.
In North Dakota, when sex offenders move, they have three days to register with the state through the local law enforcement agency.
Otherwise, they can be arrested without a warrant and face a mandatory 90-day imprisonment. All risk levels of sex offenders - low, moderate and high - must register, but the general public is notified only when a high-risk offender moves in, McNamee said.
McNamee meets with the new offenders that come to town and continually verifies their work and home addresses. She checks up on high-risk offenders every two weeks, moderate-risk every three months and low-risk every six months.
Rummel said across the country, authorities are faced with the challenge of balancing the rights of the public and those of sex offenders who have served their sentences.
"They're going to be here, so how do we make the best environment when they're going to be here," he said.
The Web site for the North Dakota Office of the Attorney General lists 19 sex offenders who reside in Dickinson. Three are high-risk offenders.
Two of the 19 are incarcerated at the Southwest Multi-county Correctional Facility; one of those two is a high-risk offender.
The state database of sex offenders can be found at http://sexoffender.nd.gov.