Neighbor danger? Sex offenders down the street

Part 2 of three-part special report on issue

Keeping tabs on sex offenders

BEND, Ore. - All over Bend neighborhoods, the typical Neighborhood Watch signs stand, warning criminals to go away.

But what about the ones who are already there?

"I'm just completely blown away," Bend grandparent Amy Bibeau said recently.

Bibeau wasn't aware a predatory sex offender lives just a few homes away from her.

"It's scary -- it's very scary," she said. "I have a grandchild, and there's small children in the neighborhood, and I had no idea."

In another Bend neighborhood, Paul Briggs is raising his four children right down the street from a predatory sex offender.

"There's a walkway right through (where the sex offender lives), We don't let them go there anymore," Briggs said.

The Briggs family has lived in its home in Bend for two years, keeping the kids under a watchful eye, but Briggs said they've never been warned about sex offenders by law enforcement.

"I found out from my wife," Briggs said. "She found out from a co-worker, I don't recall getting anything at all."

Jennifer Martin has lived next door to Briggs for more than a decade. She also knows the secrets of the neighbor down the street.

"Somebody went around the neighborhood and put pictures of him in all our doors," Martin said.

Two neighbors, two stories of notification, and more than 850 registered sex offenders living in Deschutes County.

So what's the law?

"There is no mandatory notification," Deschutes County Parole and Probation Officer Pat Rursch said. "The statute gives us the authority to notify to the level we feel is necessary for community safety."

County Parole and Probation supervises about 240 registered sex offenders.

The department only notifies the public about sex offenders under supervision.

Rursch is one of six county employees managing sex offenders.  She said her typical caseload is about 55 sex offenders.

Community notification depends on the crimes committed and the risk of re-offending.

"The lowest level being just to law enforcement, all the way up to placement on our website and or door-to-door notification in the neighborhood," Rursch said.

Parents said notification is ideal.

"I'd like to be notified, emailed or even called," Briggs said.

Parole and Probation's Website shows just eight sex offenders listed under the community notification tab.

"We have a number more that are considered predatory," Rursch said.

In fact, there are about 60 sex offenders in Deschutes County on high supervision.

But Rursch said that doesn't necessarily mean they're at risk for re-offending.

"It goes back to the risk tool, and that could just be somebody that meets that criteria because of their score, but all the other behaviors they are exhibiting are not supporting that," she said.  "They're going to be supervised way different than the person that's on our website."

It's not what neighbors NewsChannel 21 spoke with want to hear.

"It should be very public information," Martin said.

Briggs said, "They definitely need to do a better job about it (notifying the public) I think."

Rursch said the level of supervision is determined by several departments and depends on a combination of factors.

"Looking at how they're conforming with the community, how they're performing in treatment," Rursch said..

But for the community, there are no signs of performance, and sometimes no signs of danger.

"The whole neighborhood should be aware of it, because there are so many children in this area," Bibeau said.

Parents, grandparents and neighbors can only hope their families are safe.

"We're definitely going to do things differently and keep our eyes out, and inform our neighbors about it," Bibeau said.

Deschutes County Parole and Probation officials told NewsChannel 21 that officers performed door-to-door notifications in the immediate neighborhood of the sex offender who lives near Briggs and Martin.

Officials said they made the notifications back in December, a few days after the sex offender was released from prison.

As of press time, they could not immediately say whether notifications were ever made in the neighborhood where Bibeau lives.

Tune in Wednesday at 6 p.m. for part three of NewsChannel 21's special series on sex offenders. You'll hear about new laws affecting sex offender registration, and how you can keep your family safe.

By clicking Submit users are agreeing to follow the Terms of Service
comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular Stories