SUPERIOR, WI — The city of Washburn is looking to pass an ordinance that would change where sex offenders in the city can live.
Right now, they can live anywhere in the city of just over 2,000 people.
However, city officials are considering changing it, so there is only about a quarter of the city where sex offenders can legally live.
The ordinance sets 500-foot safety zones around areas where children routinely gather such as schools, parks, churches, and others.
Right now, Police say there are about 70 registered sex offenders who live in Superior
“Many of them are lifetime registrants, and they’re out and about living their lives, not trying to be involved in criminal activity anymore,” said Assistant Police Chief Matthew Markon.
Markon says because the city has no restrictions on where sex offenders can live, those 70 registered sex offenders can live wherever they want.
“We certainly know where those places are. If we need to find someone, chances are great that we’re going to find them at that place where they are registered,” he said.
If there were restrictions, Markon says it’s likely that sex offenders would register at one address, and live at another, in an effort to live in an area they like more.
“That’s the scenario we’re trying to avoid,” said Markon.
Markon said while that does happen, it is illegal.
“If the sex offender registry and the state agents we work with weren’t aware of the new address, and they’ve been living there more than 10 days, which is the time period that they have to report. We’ll arrest them and put them in jail, and refer that charge to the DA’s office,” said Markon.
Police say they counter the issue by doing routine checks.
Markon said, “Just a simple check to make sure that these particular offenders are at the address they’ve told the state they are.”
Markon says the best thing neighbors can do, is stay informed.
“Be informed. All of the sex offenders who are on the registry, are on the state registry, and that’s public record information,” said Markon.
Meanwhile, Washburn city council will discuss the ordinance Monday night, but a vote won’t take place until a later and undetermined date.
Duluth meanwhile has several restrictions in place when it comes to where sex offenders can live.