Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ND : No Interest in Offender Notification Meetings

grandforksherald.com : Police less likely to hold sex offender notification hearings.

A little more than 10 years ago, 400 anxious people packed an elementary school gymnasium in Fargo to grill two police officers about an ex-sex offender coming to their neighborhood. It was the first notification hearing held in North Dakota to alert residents to the presence of a high-risk sex offender. Two months earlier, Minnesota had held its first notification meeting in Eagan, a Twin Cities suburb.

For a time, such gatherings were regular occurrences. Today, not so much. “It’s been more than a year since we’ve held a public meeting,” said Jay Middleton, a community resources officer with the Grand Forks Police Department. “The reason we quit is lack of turnout.”

It’s the same in Fargo and other cities. “Even the media isn’t coming” to such meetings anymore, Fargo Police Sgt. Jeff Skuza said recently, explaining why his department will rely instead on news releases, the Internet and e-mail alerts to notify residents about a high-risk offender in their midst.