Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Website Lists Exact Address of Area Sex Offenders

by Janine Gates

Do you want to know exactly where a registered sex offender lives in the cities of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater or Yelm? Go to www.crimereports.com and you will receive instant information based on actual case reports that have been entered by police in these jurisdictions.

Amy Stull, City of Olympia Police Community Programs staff, offered the information as a tool for citizens at Monday night’s public meeting of the Olympia Coalition of Neighborhood Associations at the Downtown Fire Station.

“People educating themselves and seeing what they can find is good,” says Stull, who admits even she was surprised to find the exact address of registered sex offenders on the program. She has informed her supervisors of this, in case they were not aware, she said.

Asked to clarify this information later, Stull said that the website information for these crime reports comes from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. Stull said she wants it clear that "retaliation against registered sex offenders is against the law and if there is retaliation, it might jeopardize the public's access to this information in the future."

Citizens can also receive email notices of local Level II and Level III registered sex offenders through the city’s notification program. Notification of sex offenders who move into a neighborhood is not automatic. These notices give only the block address of where the sex offender has registered. To be put on this list to receive notification, contact Jennifer Kenny, City of Olympia’s Neighborhood liaison at jenny@ci.olympia.wa.us or (360) 753-8031 or see the city website at www.olympiawa.gov for more information.

The www.crimereports.com website also provides the block locations for a whole host of offenses, including sexual assaults, thefts, breaking and entering, robberies and property crimes. The information can be sorted by crime, date, and distance between the crime and your home or place of business. “For example, we had 619 reported vehicle prowls last year. One-half of those vehicles were unlocked,” said Stull. She added that vehicle prowls are up 60% this year as compared to last year.

Jeanne Marie Thomas, neighborhood association representative from the South Capitol Neighborhood, said that her car was recently prowled. Her car, she admitted, was unlocked. Small change was stolen, and she reported it, but she did not get a case number. Thomas asked Stull if that crime data would be on this website.

“No,” said Stull. “You don’t get a case number if you just say there’s nothing you want done in response to a crime. You get a case number if you file a report.” It is, however, important to report crime to police so they are aware of crime patterns in the neighborhood, said Stull.

Asked about the crime report summary published in The Olympian on a periodic basis, Stull said that is good, general information, “but the information for this website comes right out of our files.”

For more information about the Olympia Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, contact www.olympianeighborhoods.org. The next meeting of the full coalition is June 1, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at the Downtown Fire Station.

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