Originally Published: April 17, 2005 5:01 a.m.
By MIRSADA BURIC-ADAM
The Daily Courier
PRESCOTT Sex offenders who hope to elude law enforcement by not registering soon may face felony charges for being incompliant with the law.
The stance of Yavapai County Sheriff Steve Waugh is a zero tolerance for sex offenders who dont comply with the registration law, Sgt. Dave Rhodes said.
To enforce his stance, Waugh has moved the sex offender compliance unit under the supervision of the YCSO Criminal Investigations Bureau, Rhodes explained.
Prior to the new sheriff coming in, information about sex offenders was housed in the records division, he said.
Because civilian personnel handled those responsibilities, very few sex offenders who failed to comply with the registration rules have faced prosecution or charges.
Rhodes said law enforcement personnel have been tracking down sex offenders since the enactment of the registration law in 1996.
The law in Arizona requires a lifetime registration for all sex offenders regardless of their level.
A failure to comply with the registration law is a Class 5 felony and a failure to update the address is a Class 4 felony, Rhodes said.
Currently, YCSO has obtained warrants for almost all of 18 absconders currently residing in Yavapai County, Rhodes said.
One way to track them down is to check their motor vehicle file. Rhodes said sex offenders must renew their drivers licenses every year.
They have 10 working days to register in the state of Arizona, and within 72 hours they must notify law enforcement if they have moved.
The Department of Public Safety is responsible for tracking down and collecting information regarding sex offenders in Arizona. This agency also maintains a Web site (www.azsexoffenders.com) with the names and mug shots of registered sex offenders in Arizona, among other information.
Law enforcement responsible for a jurisdiction in which a sex offender resides or has relocated must notify immediate neighbors, schools, appropriate community groups and prospective employers. Notification includes a flier with a photograph and exact address of an offender as well as a summary of an offenders status and criminal background. The law enforcement agency also should give a press release and a level two or a level three flier to local electronic and print media for local publication.
However, law enforcement is responsible for distributing notifications to the community only if offenders fall in the level 2 category or intermediate-risk sex offenders and level 3 or high-risk offenders.
Level 1 and level 0 sex offenders must register, but law enforcement doesnt have to notify the community.
Yavapai County Adult Probation Officer Renee Mascher said previously that level 0 sex offenders include people who were released from a prison or sentenced prior to June 1, 1996, when the Legislature enacted the new registration law, and they have not re-offended since then.
This group also could include Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders.
Rhodes said that currently sex offenders can register on Tuesdays by appointment.
They are also being assessed by the certified law enforcement personnel such as detectives, he said. What that is allowing us to do is that they are also classified properly, which in turn helps us to ensure that appropriate community notifications are sent out.
He said information that the sex offender compliance unit gathers from the registered sex offenders could be helpful in the future investigations of sexual offenses, particularly those involving children. In addition, sex offenders who do not comply with the registration law will be aggressively prosecuted, Rhodes said.
Mascher said that 307 registered sex offenders currently reside in Yavapai County and six of them are women. Of that number, 154 are classified as level 0; 49 as level 1; 72 as level 2; and 24 as level 3.
The probation department is currently assessing five sex offenders. She said that 94 sex offenders are currently on standard probation, including one woman, while nine are on intensive probation and one of those probationers is also a woman.
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