PROBLEMATIC BEHAVIOR OR ACTIVITY
Oregon consistently ranks first among U.S. states and territories for the number of registered sex offenders on a per capita basis. As of July 2015, 27,864 registered offenders resided in Oregon, or 727 sex offenders per 100,000 residents. The national average is 270 sex offenders per 100,000 residents. Oregon’s sex offender population has risen dramatically in recent years. In 2008, Oregon had 14,800 registered offenders; in July 2015, this number had almost doubled. (Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.) Oregon sex offender registration compliance relies on the offender to report to the police when required under ORS 181.812. The system easily allows sex offenders to avoid registration unless checked for compliance by law enforcement or Community Corrections. In Medford, fewer than 40 percent of the locally registered sexual offenders are under supervision by local Community Corrections.
IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
An average sex offender has committed 120 sex offenses before being charged with his or her first crime. (Source: Oregon Association of Community Corrections Directors, July 2007) Many sex offenders commit multiple offenses and present a high safety hazard to the community; noncompliant sex offenders are more likely to commit new crimes (National Institute of Justice). In 2006, Medford had 400 registered sex offenders citywide. At that time, two officers conducted address compliance checks; they completed 130 and found that 47 percent of offenders were out of compliance. The offenders either did not live at their registered address or had failed to complete their annual registration. When an offender goes out of compliance, it can be a sign that he or she is committing other criminal behavior.
Officers from the Medford Police Department volunteer to monitor registered sex offenders residing in the city. Monitoring includes, but is not limited to:
- Confirmation of an offender’s address and annual registration compliance through in-person contact with the offender, his or her family, or roommate(s) at the home address provided by the registrant.
- Review of information in the state’s Law Enforcement Data System, the State of Oregon Sex Offender Inquiry System, and the National Crime Information Center database.
- Contact with a registrant’s parole or probation officer.
- Methods that are less obtrusive, such as contact with the local power company, U.S. Postal Service, an Internet search, or a drive-by of the declared residence.
Medford Police Department personnel routinely disseminate information regarding registered offenders to other officers and to surrounding police agencies as appropriate, including timely updates about new or relocated registrants received from the Oregon State Police Sex Offender Registration Unit. A project manager oversees the officers involved in sex offender monitoring and coordinates their activities by disseminating information about which sex offenders are to be checked for address compliance each month. Participation in this project is voluntary, to ensure that the interest of those officers involved remains high. Offenders should be checked for compliance with ORS 181.812 during the month of their birthday, and 10 or more days after they are to have completed their annual registration. This verifies that offenders are living at their reported address and alerts the officer if an offender has failed to report. Compliance checks should also be done when an offender moves into the city, if requested by a parole or probation officer, or at any other time deemed necessary.
BASED ON RESEARCH
International studies have shown that when sex offenders know they are being monitored, they are less likely to commit new crimes. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Approach to Sex Offender Management expands on the internationally recognized Containment Model as the most effective strategy of preventing people convicted of sex crimes from reoffending. The “Comprehensive Approach” involves members from multiple disciplines working in a collaborative effort to contain sex offenders as a means of ensuring victim and public safety and promoting offender accountability. The team should include, but is not limited to, law enforcement, probation or parole, child welfare, polygraph examiners, treatment providers, court officers, and community/family support systems. The primary role of law enforcement is actively checking offenders to confirm that they comply with registration requirements and other laws. Law enforcement should notify other team members when an offender is out of compliance or commits a new crime.
- The Comprehensive Approach to Sex Offender Management
- The Comprehensive Approach to Adult and Juvenile Sex Offender Management: An Overview
This program is done with patrol officers who volunteer to take on the extra work of doing compliance checks during their patrol shifts. No additional funding is required. No additional funding required.
Medford Police Department started the program in 2006. By 2009, more officers volunteered to conduct compliance checks; 312 were completed, and 90 percent of those offenders were in compliance. In 2014, the sex offender population in Medford had risen to 757; officers doing compliance checks found only 9.9 percent of offenders failed to register. From 2006 to 2009, the percentage of noncompliant registered sex offenders dropped from nearly 50 percent to 10 percent. The number of arrests and/or warrant requests for violation of ORS 181.812 has dropped similarly. The compliance level has remained at or above 90 percent since 2009.
CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS
Allow the officers involved in this program to be volunteers and to join or drop out as they see fit. Not all officers want the extra work of—or have interest in—sex offender compliance checks. In addition, work schedules and assignments change and officers doing this work should have the flexibility to change with them.
The program manager should request a user name and password to access the State of Oregon Sex Offender Inquiry System. The public online system does not include all registered sex offenders in Oregon and does not have the search features required to obtain accurate information.