How does law enforcement keep track of homeless sex offenders?
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Arizona’s sex offender registry is a statewide system intended to help keep you and your family safe. Maybe you've searched a registry before. You type in your address, see the sex offenders living near you and become aware of potential threats nearby. But an Arizona Republic investigation found nearly 200 of those offenders across the state are homeless. How can police keep tabs on offenders who live on the streets? 9 On Your Side went to law enforcement for answers.
9 On Your Side found an example of such a sex offender who's homeless using the Tucson Police Department’s database, Offender Watch
. He’s a 57-year-old Level 3 offender. That level is considered the highest risk. His “address” is listed as the intersection of Broadway and Kolb.
“That means that these people do not have a permanent residence, but they have to stay in a particular area that they define,” explained Deputy Tom Peine of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. “Typically, that would be an intersection of a major cross street.”
So, how many sex offenders live on our streets?
Of the 1,079 registered sex offenders of all levels in the City of Tucson, the police department reported 54 are homeless. Of the 542 offenders on Pima County land, the sheriff's department reported ten are homeless.
How does law enforcement keep track of all these people when they don't have houses or apartments?
Peine explained homeless offenders -- unlike those with a home -- are required to regularly check in.
“Every 90 days they are required to confirm that is the area that they still live in,” the department spokesman said.
Peine said law enforcement follow up, visiting street corners, washes and neighborhoods to see that is, in fact, where a person lives. Record keepers constantly add that information to the online registries you have access to.
Reporter Kevin Keen asked Peine, “That's still reliable information?” “Yes because we go out on a regular basis and we actually verify and check on these people that they are where they claim to be.”
Many offenders aren't allowed to live near schools, daycares and other centers. Officers know that and make sure the person -- regardless of whether they're homeless -- live in an acceptable spot, TPD and PCSD reported.