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Why Didn’t Hopkins Learn a Sex Offender was Coming Sooner?

Notification laws and numerous, aborted attempts to move into the community mean police can’t alert the public until they confirm a predatory offender’s move.

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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Vicki HEnry August 24, 2012 at 01:50 PM
(Part 3) Every state needs a Child Abuse Prevention Program and it should be taken to schools, PTO Meetings, Scouts, Sports and many other places where abuse occurs and there is a difference in a registered former sexual offender and a sexual predator. The predator is the one we need to talk about and not expect legislators to continue to pass laws. A law will "never" protect a child. Education will empower kids. Vicki Henry Women Against Registry
Vicki HEnry August 24, 2012 at 01:51 PM
(Part 2) You do realize there are over 763,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register for everything from urinating in public, streaking, mooning, exposure, sexting, viewing suggestive or abusive images of anyone up to the age of 18, playing doctor, prostitution, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, ex-girlfriend or angry and immature student, Romeo & Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, endangering the welfare of a child, rape and many other "crimes." You are weaving a horrible web. Please do the math... 763,000 multiplied by 2 or 3 family members...wives, children, mothers, grandmothers, girlfriends, aunts and other loved ones that are suffering the collateral damage by being harassed, ridiculed, threatened, beaten, wives lose their jobs, asked to leave their church and other organizations, have to move, have signs placed in their yards, flyers distributed throughout the neighborhood....all because they are trying to provide a support system for someone who has paid their debt to society and wants to work and support their family....that's all. Keep adding more laws and "you" or someone you love will soon be awarded a place on the registry. Education is the key! Use the money to maintain these registries to teach parents, teens and children about sexual safety to include behavior that is appropriate toward them as well as behavior that is appropriate coming from them. Very Important!
Vicki HEnry August 24, 2012 at 01:52 PM
(Part 1) Two statements here make me cringe... “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.” and: 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. But, first the word "predatory" is alarming to folks but, what does it really mean according to state statutes? Next, I will give you some statistics to educate you both about sexual 'crimes' as well as make the simple statement that newspapers, on-line media and television have done their parents an injustice with the fear tactics used to attract an audience. Lastly, would you have been so 'concerned' if Jerry Sandusky had moved next door? Sexual predators are everywhere....just haven't been caught. So, you should have already had the conversation with your children and should continue to do so.
James Warden (Editor) August 24, 2012 at 02:26 PM
This article covered what predatory means: http://hopkins.patch.com/articles/what-does-it-mean-to-have-a-level-iii-sex-offender-move-into-hopkins Minnesota’s Predatory Offender Law requires registration of offenders who commit the following crimes in Minnesota: - Murder while committing or trying to commit first- or second-degree criminal sexual conduct with force or violence - Kidnapping - First- through Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and felony fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct - Criminal sexual predatory conduct - Felony indecent exposure - False imprisonment of a minor - Soliciting a minor to engage in prostitution - Soliciting a minor to engage in sexual conduct - Using a minor in a sexual performance - Possessing child pornography Those are some serious crimes. The more ridiculous cases of registration that made the news right after registries came out aren't part of MN's law. For example, registration for indecent exposure is only required if it is a felony. But you make a good point — and one officials emphasized at the notification meeting: Parents should focus on protecting their children from all dangers, not just the one known offender.
Fabuladico August 24, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I don't live in Hopkins, but rather a nice middle classed neighborhood in Minneapolis. The city has moved sex offenders into our neighborhood on five separate occasions prompting the question, "Why has our neighborhood become sex offender central?" One such sex offender, a level two, took up residence only two blocks from a elementary school. The bad nes, was that we were not notified until after the sex offender had already taken up residence, in other words they were not seeking our approval by rather notifying us that it was a done deal. The good news? Good and bad? The police increased their patrols and especially watched the offender's house, good because it meant they were keeping an eye on him, bad because taxpayer's money was being spent to babysit a criminal instead of pursuing other crimes and misdemeanors. The good news? None of these guys seem to stay very long.

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