Police post sex offender details online


More than half of Colorado Springs’ registered sex offenders — adults with felony convictions — were posted online Monday.

Police Chief Luis Velez presented the plan to the City Council on Monday during an informal meeting and was given the OK to post the list at www.springspolice.com.

Authorities say the registries are needed because sex offenders are considered high risks to reoffend.

“It’s a behavioral disorder that can’t be cured,” said 4th Judicial Deputy District Attorney Gail Warkentin, head of the DA’s special victims unit, which prosecutes sex offenders. “That’s not something that’s generally recognized with other types of crimes.

“Sex offenders act in secret. They’re very covert in the way they commit their crimes. In that way, they’re very dangerous.”

The registries are intended, police say, to let people know who’s living in their neighborhoods so they can take precautions to protect themselves and their children.

The Web site has a disclaimer, which users must agree to, that the information can’t be used to harass, intimidate or seek retribution from offenders. If it is, criminal charges can be filed.

A total of 1,019 sex offenders are registered in Colorado Springs. The online list includes 612 adult offenders convicted of felonies and 85 offenders who have failed to register.

Juveniles and adults with misdemeanor convictions are excluded.

The online registry includes three categories: wanted sex offenders; sex offenders listed alphabetically; and sex offenders listed by ZIP codes.

It includes the offender’s picture, home address and physical description, but not the conviction.

Mayor Lionel Rivera and Councilman Tom Gallagher told Velez they want it noted which sex offenders are pedophiles. Velez responded that he will look into how much it would cost the department to research and include that information and get back to the council before adding it.

The entire list of sex offenders remains available on CD for $15.

How long a sex offender must register varies according to the crime, Warkentin said, but is usually 10 years to life.

Several council members questioned the length offenders must be registered, saying some crimes are more serious than others. Gallagher, for example, questioned whether a lifetime punishment is needed for someone convicted of statutory rape who later married that victim.

Councilman Jerry Heimlicher also wondered whether it’s appropriate to have a public list of sex offenders but not of those who committed other serious crimes. He emphasized that he favors the online list but wanted to make sure the city isn’t infringing on anyone’s civil rights.

“A person convicted of murder, extortion or kidnapping would not spend the rest of their life being branded a murderer, extortionist or whatever,” Heimlicher said.

A revision to state law that took effect in July allows police and sheriff’s agencies to post a list of sex offenders online.

The law says agencies can’t post juveniles or offenders with misdemeanors unless they have more than one offense. Misdemeanor convictions include peeping toms and flashers.

State rules previously allowed only the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to post three types of sex offenders online: sexually violent predators; those with multiple sexoffense convictions; and those not registered and whose whereabouts are unknown.

Victim advocates warn that the sex-offender lists are incomplete because an estimated 84 percent of sexual assaults go unreported. Most sex offenders aren’t caught.

Copyright 2005

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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