Apr 062005
 
Authors: Brian Park

It could become easy to find out if a sex offender is living in the community if House Bill 1035 is passed in the state legislature.

Under the bill law-enforcement agencies would be allowed to post sex offender registries on their Web site with an offender's name, address, known aliases, convictions for sex crimes and prior criminal convictions.

"The bill primarily allows local law-enforcement agencies to put a sex offender registry online," said Rep. Dale Hall, R-Greeley, who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, where it has already passed. The bill is in conference committee in the Senate.

"Sex offender information is public information and should be able to go online," said Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora. "Our state needs to update our statutes. This is a bipartisan acknowledgement that access to a registry of sex offenders deters sexual offenses."

Williams sponsored the bill in the Senate and believes it will pass.

The bill would also allow people who do not reside in the local law-enforcement's jurisdiction access to the area's sex offender registry. For instance, if people were looking to move to Colorado from another state, they would be able to find out if the neighborhood in which they were interested had any sex offenders living nearby.

"As of right now though, they can't find that information out," Hall said.

The types of misdemeanor sex crimes that should be allowed for listing on the registry is being debated in the Senate.

"It has been accepted that all felony sex offenders will be included," Williams said. "Misdemeanors are a different issue, though."

Misdemeanors that constitute as sex offenses could be pranks and public nuisance-related issues that were committed by a person in his or her past, Williams said.

"Other misdemeanors are very significant though, like statutory rape," Williams said. "That's what the conference committee is talking about now. How should we regulate this?"

Hall believes that after the issue is discussed a few misdemeanors will be included in the bill's final version.

In a rural area such as Weld County, it is tough for people to come to the sheriff's department to get the information because some people could be as far as an hour away, Hall said. Because of this the sheriff asked him to get this bill passed and functioning.

"It's simpler to post all this on a Web site," Hall said.

Williams agreed.

"I said last year that all this made sense," Williams said. "And this year it is going to pass."

If a convicted sex offender is attending or working at CSU, he or she must register with the CSU Police Department. The police department has a list of sex offenders for public access.

"The list has averaged about eight or nine people the last couple of years," said CSUPD Lt. Karl Swenson. "It is pretty stagnant as for people going on and off. A couple of employees have been required to register as well."

People must prove a need to know and explain why they want to look at the list when they go to CSUPD to retrieve sex offender information.

"At a minimum a name, address, aliases, a photo – if law enforcement has one readily available – history of sex offender convictions and prior convictions are on hand," said Brittany Boltman, who runs the sex offender registry at CSUPD. "No victim information at all is included though."

CSUPD sends out an e-mail every fall to students informing them of the sex offender registry and how to access it.

Fort Collins residents can access sex offender information by going to the Fort Collins police station and asking to look at a picture book of current sex offenders. A person must present a driver's license or other type of identification to show proof of residency, said Leroy Shaffer, registrar of sex offenders for Fort Collins Police Services.

Larimer County and Fort Collins do not have the information posted online.

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