Tracking Fresno Sex Offenders

April 30, 2009 6:40:28 PM PDT
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin now has a new plan to track high risk sex offenders ... and it's not through GPS monitoring.The police department has come up with a second plan to monitor sex offenders in Fresno after the first plan, announced just hours after Mayor Ashley Swearengin was sworn into office, hit some snags.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said, "It's risky. There's a good chance that it could be challenged in court and given the financial situation we have as a city right now, it just seemed prudent to hold back on that. The real point was to make sure that we are protecting the people of Fresno and we're monitoring our sex offenders in an appropriate way."

The alternative plan is to use grant money to hire two retired officers to register sex offenders and allow the detectives who previously did that job, to follow up with the offenders on the streets.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "This plan although it's not going to allow for 24 hour a day monitoring, it will allow us to actively monitor those individuals and for the purpose of taking away their anonymity. We know that when sex offenders know that you are watching them frequently, they are less likely to re-offend."

Right now 1620 registered sex offenders live in the city of Fresno and 452 of them are either on parole or probation.

The initial plan, called Operation Monitor would have used ankle bracelets and GPS satellites to monitor high risk sex offenders, like those who are transients with no residence on record.

Eventually the mayor would like to see GPS used to track offenders in Fresno, but she feels the new plan keeps people safer and is more sound legally.

"I think it's a good compromise and I think we will see an increase in the results out in the field and its certainly better than having our detectives stuck behind desks and not really being able to get out there," said Swearengin.

The police department is now working with state legislators to further define who has authority and responsibility of sex registrants.

The attorney general weighed in on the matter and said that the law on this is vague and Fresno would have been a test case, so that was part of the reason for devising a new plan.

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