By Jonathan Pickering
Before the Board of Selectmen on Oct. 1, Lexington's Police Chief Mark Corr addressed a recent rash of calls concerning sex offenders and the idea of a new bylaw to restrict Level 3 offenders.
Police Chief Mark Corr went before the Selectmen Monday night to talk about the rash of calls they have been getting concerning a Level 3 sex offender hanging around school yards, soccer fields and public places in Lexington.
Corr began by setting the facts straight: The chief noted that many of the reports of sex offender sightings have been unsubstantiated.
Amid the rash of 911 calls that came in last Thursday reporting sex offender sightings, one caller was insistent that a Level 3 sex offender was outside a school event taking photos of children. That individual was not the Level 3 offender residents claimed he was, Corr said, but the police investigation identified the man as a parent from the visiting team.
Those calls came after Lexington Police recently circulated a Waltham man’s detail flyer to Lexington Center businesses, schools and other organizations, and the Bridge School's PTA last week sent an email to parents reporting William Lafauci approached two kids on their way to Bridge Elementary School.
In his remarks at the Town House on Monday night, Corr sought to explain how residents can handle their suspicions and without sparking hysteria, as anxious parents have.
Corr addressed the concerns of skeptical parents concerning the particular offender in question, who has sparked concern by hanging around soccer fields and restaurants around Lexington Center.
“We do have an individual that can be cavalier, which has raised concerns,” he said, later adding, “We cannot be an extension to violate people's civil rights, but we want people to call us that are concerned and we're here to answer any questions.”
Corr then said it's easy for suspicion to term into hysteria in these circumstances. “Our kids pay attention to what their parents do,” he said, explaining that if parents get excited and begin to place unnecessary blame or suspicion on people, then their children will emulate this behavior.
Late last week, there was chatter of a proposed bylaw being added to warrant for the special Town Meeting coming up this November, which could potentially restrict the areas around town where a convicted sex offender could spend time. While the deadline has passed for collecting enough signatures to add a new article to the warrant, Corr expressed his support of such a bylaw in the future.
“I would not object to a new bylaw,” he said, adding that he “would help anyone interested in creating such a law.”
Corr went on to explain that the rash of calls and fervor for the new bylaw shows that Lexington wants to look into an initiative to explore the issue of Level 3 sex offenders in town. The meeting ended with the chief and town counsel agreeing to partner-up in order to follow-up on this concern, which they will report to the selectmen and the town at a future meeting.
- I'm sure if you announced all other criminals as well, like murderers being released or moving, gang members, thieves, etc, you'd also have a moral panic.
According to the chief, Lexington currently has eight people in the community who are either level 2 or 3 sex offenders (those at either moderate or high risk to re-offend).
To further ensure the community, the police are doing all they can to quell the fears of its residents and keep track of these offenders. Corr encouraged those seeking more information on these sex offenders to contact the Lexington PD or visit the official Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry to search Lexington and other nearby communities to examine at risk offenders.