The Westminster Police Department manages the files of 290 registered sex offenders in the city, and that includes making sure they’re in compliance with state rules.
To this end, the agency conducts regular residency checks of registrants, the most recent of which was held March 8.
“We try to get out there, do these checks to make sure they’re compliant with all state laws,” said Crimes Against Persons Sgt. Alan Iwashita.
About 12 detectives, officers and other support staff paid visits to 14 registered sex offenders across the city to make sure they were living at their last registered location (registrants must register annually with an up-to-date home address), that they were driving the vehicle on record and to see if any additional people were residing in the home that could cause concern.
The law dictates registered sex offenders cannot live with other sex offenders.
Iwashita said in the case of registered sex offenders who are homeless, the individual must notify the registry every 30 days of his or her new address.
“Are there kids frequenting the house?” is another question the team wants to get answered, according to Civilian Investigator Lindsey Westmoreland.
“We want to make contact with them at their home … [and]that they’re giving us all the information honestly that [we]need,” she said.
Westmoreland, who coordinates the sex offender registrant compliance checks for the agency, said the plan is to have more regular visits.
At the recent check, most of the registrants were found in compliance, with only a couple of technical violations – such as a move to the apartment next door, said Iwashita.
“In those instances, we basically just tell them to re-register and make them register properly so that they maintain compliance,” he said, adding that if officers were to encounter someone who was purposely deceptive, the agency would enforce the law via arrest if necessary.
Letting sex offender registrants know law enforcement is holding them accountable to abide by the law hopefully provides enough incentive to keep them from reoffending, Iwashita said.
Another benefit of the checks is that in the worst-case scenario that a registrant reoffends, law enforcement will have the information they have collected on file to help with any necessary investigation.
“These compliance checks are an important avenue to pursue in keeping these individuals on the straight and narrow and keeping them honest,” said Iwashita.