Sex offenders in D.M. look for places to live

Police are enforcing a state law says some child molesters must move away
from schools and child care facilities.

By TOM ALEX
REGISTER STAFF WRITER

September 27, 2005

A handful of registered sex offenders gathered Monday around four large,
framed maps at the Des Moines police station.

The maps showed where they can no longer live ‹ within 2,000 feet of any
school or child care facility.
That left a few slivers of riverbank, some room around the airport, a few
acres of open space in an industrial area.

Meanwhile, 30 police officers and detectives fanned out across the city
to tell those not exempt from new statewide residency restrictions that
it’s time to move.

Officers expect to notify nearly 300 child molesters ‹ the law applies
only to crimes against children ‹ before the three-week effort is over.

Iowa is one of more than a dozen states with such restrictions.

Exempt from the enforcement are offenders who lived at their address
before 2002 or before the school or child care center in question opened.

Officers answered telephone calls Monday from offenders confused about
the new rules.

One person called in to say a child care center had closed in the
neighborhood. Is it OK to stay put?

A woman called on behalf of an elderly offender who suffers from
dementia. His move apparently required his entire family to move with him.

Some callers wept as they asked for clarification. Others were just
miffed.

Jim, a stocky man with glasses who refused to give his last name, was
among those who came to examine the “Sex Offender 2,000 ft. Buffer Maps”
in the station’s main hallway.

He looked carefully at all four maps, and then he threw up his hands. He
said that if he’d murdered someone, he wouldn’t have to move. He said
that lawmakers have cut him off from most of the city and that the result
will be penal colonies inhabited only by molesters.

Michael, a tall, thin man with a short beard who also declined to give
his last name, said police visited his house twice on Monday to let him
know he was in violation of the law.

He came to the police station to see for himself.
Police now plan to draw new maps that show offenders exactly where they
can live.

“They could be arrested today, but we are giving them a 30-day period to
find an alternate place to live,” Sgt. Todd Dykstra said.

Sgt. Vince Valdez and Sgt. Bob King Jr. visited nine addresses Monday.

They issued two warnings, learned one man is back in jail and found that
two others have moved without notifying authorities.

In other cases, they left their business cards in the door.
“It’s an embarrassing thing for them,” Valdez said after he told a man
that he would have to move from a house in the 1100 block of Geil Ave.

“But they did violate the law, and we are notifying them in person. They
sign a piece of paper, and it’s dated. And that’s it.”

Copyright © 2005, The Des Moines Register

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