By Clare Kennedy
Some residents insist that notification letters never went out, while others say that the two men are infringing on their rights as citizens.
Every time [name withheld] steps outside his motel door in Savage, he must report back.
First a mandatory phone call stating the exact address of his destination, his purpose in going there, and when he will be back. Then, no matter how trivial the errand, he must make another call, reporting that he has returned to the confines of his room.
- Sounds a little extreme to us.
The calls are just one of his obligations, however, a mere supplement to the court-ordered GPS bracelet and random visits by the Savage Police Department. What most people would consider minutiae—missing work, growing a beard or shaving it off—could become a probation violation if not reported to the proper authorities in a "timely fashion."
Such is a day in the closely-scrutinized life of a level III sex offender, as described by representatives of the Savage PD on Monday night, but their words seemed to be a cold comfort to many of the residents who gathered at the council meeting on Monday night.
Neisius words were met with applause from her neighbors, about 20 to 30 people drawn to the meeting by an anonymous flyer. The flyer stated that many residents within a half-mile of [name withheld]'s motel had not gotten any notice of his arrival, nor that of another Level III offender, [name withheld]. The flyer also stated—falsely—that the city of Savage planned to turn the hotel on the 7300 block of Highway 13 into a halfway house.
The city website states that notification letters were sent out shortly before both moved in, on April 16 and April 26 respectively. City officials added that word of the level IIIs' arrival had been printed in the local newspaper, the Savage Pacer, and had been posted on the city website.
Residents at the meeting insisted, however, that in many cases no such letters had been sent out.
"We're supposed to get a letter and a phone call. A lot of people who live on my block didn't get anything," said resident Heather Jensen. "We all feel you guys did this very sneakily, behind our backs and didn't notify us."
Jensen added that she thought the notification area—a half mile radius around the offender's address—was too small and should be extended to the entire city.
"First off, for some reason or another notification might not have gone out. I can't explain it, but I will check into it," said City Administrator Barry Stock. "Secondly, to notify everyone in the city by mail, every single time, would be very costly."
Perhaps more importantly, many of the residents who spoke felt that the men's existence was an affront to their rights as citizens and thought that the city should be able to prevent them from living in Savage. City Attorney Ric Rosow and Stock assured the public in the council chambers that by state law the city government could not ban certain people from town, nor could they interfere with the transactions of a private business.
- Well despite what you think, these men have rights as well.
As for law enforcement, Police Chief Rodney Seurer said that once the men had completed their sentence—as both have—the courts could not tell them where to live, though they are still monitored for compliance with the sex offender registry and the terms of their probation.
"They choose where they want to live. It's not up to law enforcement," Seurer said. "It's wherever housing or a job is available."
In any case, Detective Laura Kvasnicka warned that while parents should take these notices seriously, they should be much more vigilant about people in their own social circle or family group. Both men—[name withheld] and [name withheld] were convicted of sexually assaulting children who were known to them. It's a common tale in the annals of police work, she said.
"Residential proximity has very little or nothing to do with recidivism of predatory offenders. It has more to do with relationship and social proximity," Kvasnicka said. "We need to be aware of our surroundings and aware of who we bring into our homes, rather than focusing on the level III offenders we all know about."
The most dangerous sex offenders, she said, are the ones that have never been caught.