Advertisement

Number of registered sex offenders in county 'alarming'

April 23, 2002|BY KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

A state registry on the Internet lists 85 known sex offenders with Washington County addresses, including 60 in Hagerstown.

"It's somewhat alarming," said Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith.

Many of the sex offenders who listed Hagerstown addresses live in the city because treatment programs are available, as are hotels with monthly rates, Smith said.

The convicted sex offender registry is provided on the Web by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Information Technology and Communications Division. The Web site - at www.dpscs.state.md.us - lists those convicted of sex crimes ranging from inappropriate touching to rape.

The number of sex offenders in Washington County has increased from 31 listed in 2001, according to Maryland's Crimes Against Children and Sex Offenders Registry.

Advertisement

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services announced Monday that its online sex offender registry was operating. The Web site includes a listing of more than 2,000 names, last reported addresses, photos and crimes. The Web site is to be updated weekly.

City Police are taking the registry information seriously, said Smith.

The information will be disseminated to each of the sector commanders and officers will knock regularly on the doors of convicted sex offenders to make sure they're living where they say they are, he said.

The checkups also may help "those who may be wavering," to maintain their control if they know police are keeping up with them, Smith said.

On Monday, photographs on the Web site wouldn't open and calls to a toll-free contact number wouldn't go through. The site Web master did not return an e-mail about the problems Monday.

The Web site includes a warning that not all sex offenders are required to register under Maryland law and advises against vigilantism.

"I worry that it may give people a false sense of security," said Smithsburg Police Chief Michael Potter of the Web site.

Sex offenders who have never been apprehended or prosecuted could be living in the area, he said.

"People need to keep their guards up," Potter said.

Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades said he hopes the Web site is updated regularly so people have the most accurate information possible.

Mades said the information is of a sensitive nature, but people should know who's living next door.

"If you've done something like that, I don't have a problem with the world knowing it," Mades said.

The convicted sex offender registry can be found on the Web at www.dpscs.state.md.us

The site lists 85 convicted sex offenders as living in Washington County and registered with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The numbers registered in county ZIP code areas are:

Hagerstown - 60

Boonsboro - 5

Clear Spring - 7

Knoxville - 3

Keedysville - 1

Sharpsburg - 2

Hancock - 2

Williamsport - 3

Cascade - 1

Funkstown - 1

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|