Fresno Police receive $500K to track sexual predators

FRESNO, Calif.

Fresno Police can now hire four additional detectives, who will make up the soon to be formed child sexual predator task force.

The blue dots on a map show just how many sexual predators live in Fresno. Keeping tabs on them has always been challenging for Fresno Police. Many are homeless. Others lie about their address. But, officials say the problem is getting worse, especially since the department recently lost 10-percent of its sworn officers due to budget cuts.

Lt. Herman Silva said, "We've got 1600 felons who are on these program-290 registrants, and that's a lot of people for three detectives to try and keep track of."

Lieutenant Herman Silva with the Family Justice Bureau plans to use the $500 thousand grant to hire four detectives. One of them will work full time. He says the money is more crucial now than ever, fearing the state's jail realignment program will pose a danger to children.

Lt. Herman Silva said, "You know with the state realigning about 40,000 inmates to the different counties, yeah we expect a certain percentage of those will be sexual registrants."

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office received a grant in 2007 to create the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Since then, Sheriff Margaret Mims says prosecuting sexual predators has become easier. And while she does not expect the state's realignment program will bring more predators to the area, she's encouraged by the police department's newest resource.

Sheriff Margaret Mims said, "It adds strength to our coordinated efforts to fight crimes when people try to prey on our children."

With more staff members focused solely on the safety of children, tracking sexual predators will become much more manageable. The task force will not only monitor sex offenders, but it will also teach kids about inappropriate behavior and when to report it.

The police department says it plans to start the hiring process right away.

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