Sex offender fliers distributed
Residents in Citrus County are given detailed information on offenders in neighborhoods.
By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET
Published March 30, 2007
INVERNESS - The Citrus County Sheriff's Office has started a campaign to spread the word about local sex offenders.
Deputies and volunteers began knocking on doors throughout the county last week, dropping off postcard-size "Top Sexual Offender Notification" fliers.
The cards include mug shots, physical descriptions, maps pinpointing the offenders' addresses, details about crimes committed, probation information and contact information for the Sheriff's Office.
For the Sheriff's Office, it's a more aggressive technique designed to protect and inform residents. Citrus may be the first county to use this approach, Lt. David DeCarlo said.
"We wanted to enhance what we already were doing," he said. "We took a step back and we came up with this plan."
State law requires law enforcement to notify neighborhoods when a sexual predator moves in. But this campaign, DeCarlo said, includes all sexual predators and sex offenders whose victims were age 12 or younger.
The number of such sex offenders living in Citrus changes regularly, he said, and currently is more than 100.
Deputies and volunteers have canvassed about half of their neighborhoods as part of the campaign, handing out about 50 fliers per offender.
DeCarlo said they hope to finish in the next few weeks.
"This will educate the public and let parents be aware of who's living in their neighborhood so we can make their neighborhood as safe as possible," he said.
In addition to alerting neighbors, DeCarlo said deputies also check on the offenders monthly.
"They knock on the door and take note of any changes of appearance," he said.
A new mustache. Cut or colored hair. New cars or motorcycles.
After this campaign, deputies will notify residents only when sex offenders whose victims were under 12 move into a neighborhood.
But he said they will continue other notification campaigns, such as displaying posters about the offenders at the county fair or at stores around Halloween.
"We strongly believe that they pose a danger to society," DeCarlo said.
Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-7309.
[Last modified March 29, 2007, 23:45:15]
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