Level III predatory offender Kenneth Edward Dean moved into Hopkins on Aug. 13. That’s the same day neighbors , living right next to them.
Although police found out Dean was considering Hopkins earlier in the month, a combination of logistics challenges and laws prevented officials from informing the public until Dean was actually in the community.
Neighbors nearly always have some concern upon learning about the arrival of a Level III predatory offender, the highest risk level. But residents say the late notice makes a worrisome situation worse.
“You’re going to get public-wide panic when you hear Level III sex offender. That’s not the ice cream truck coming to town,” said Andrea Widmark, who lives with her husband and three daughters four houses away from Dean. “But if you have community-wide preparation, you’re not going to get slapped in the face. ‘Oh, he’s here.’”
By law, offenders must notify their supervising agent and the law enforcement agency supervising them at least five days before they move to a new location.
The agent or law enforcement agency then have two business days to notify the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension—which then forwards the information to the new law enforcement agency if that hasn’t already been done.
That’s already a tight timeline, but other factors further conspire to impede early notice—particularly since local police can’t notify the public until they’ve confirmed the offender actually is moving into the community or is already here.
While this is the first Level III offender to live in Hopkins in several years, Chief Mike Reynolds said the department receives numerous notices that Level II and III predatory offenders plan to move to Hopkins.
In 60 percent to 80 percent of those cases, the move falls through, Reynolds said. The landlord may decide not to accept the offender, or the offender may decide not to come for other reasons.
“In these cases, in particular, we get notification all the time,” Reynolds said. “We’d be running around like chickens with our heads cut off if we had meetings every time we got notification from the probation officers.”
In this case, the Department of Corrections received confirmation of Dean’s new address Aug. 13, according to the agency. Hopkins police received confirmation the same day, and Dean’s supervisor went to the home to confirm that he was actually living there.
That same day officers put up flyers in the neighborhood, sent releases to the media and notified residents.
“The one that holds everything for us is the DOC,” Reynolds said. “We cannot and do not act until we confirm that (the offender) has moved or will move.”
Widmark thinks that’s a process that should be changed, even if it means changing state law. She said there should be a waiting period after offenders confirm where they’ll be living and a requirement that officials notify the community before the offender arrives.
That would allow people to make preparations and plan conversations with their children—instead of rushing to have those conversations knowing the offender is among them.
Finding out about the offender’s intensive supervision could even reassure the community, she speculated, “instead of (neighbors) going into panic mode: ‘Oh my gosh, he’s here.’”
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