This week there have been a couple of different pieces of news regarding sexually violent predators (SVPs). It kicked off when we started spreading the word an SVP wanted out of Wyoming was believed to be in Grand Junction. 42-year-old Edward James McCabe had an active warrant for several counts of Sex Assault on a Child and left Wyoming without notifying the proper authorities as required by law in that state. Working with the Lovell, Wyoming police department we were able to determine he was in our area, we just couldn’t find an exact time and place where he would be so we could pick him up. It turns out, though, the heat we were putting on him during our search here was enough for him to head back to Wyoming, where the Cody, WY police department got a tip on his location and arrested him.
McCabe received the label Sexually Violent Predator by the courts because of his convictions. While he is no longer here, there are now a total of 3 SVPs living either in Mesa County or within the Grand Junction city limits; the newest one just moved in this week. There are some differences between SVPs and other registered sex offenders. An SVP is a sex offender that also meets criteria set by the state and who has had an assessment done that determined they are at a higher risk of reoffending. Whenever they move to a new area or change addresses the agency whose jurisdiction they are living in is required by law to notify the public. That’s why you will see us alerting the media, posting information on websites, calling community meetings, or placing informational programs on Cable Channel 12 with information about SVPs.
So, do you need to be more worried about an SVP as opposed to any other registered sex offender? Yes and no. Assessments show SVPs are more likely to reoffend, which is of course a concern, but the requirements placed on SVPs are more strict in regards to how often they have to check in with law enforcement. For example, here at the GJPD SVPs are required to check in with the person who manages our sex offenders every week, regardless if they are still under supervised probation or parole. That’s in addition to periodic address checks we do throughout the year. And remember, every time they change their address, we send out a notification, which is not true for other sex offenders.
What about protecting yourself and your family? There are several things you can do- most importantly know who’s living around your home, your place of work, and your children’s schools. That’s easy to do, thanks to a team effort by all of the law enforcement agencies in Mesa County. We’ve created a single website that lists every registered sex offender living in the county, including SVPs. There are pictures and a map, and you can search the site a number of different ways. Both the Grand Junction Police Department and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office have a link to an educational video about SVPs too. The only catch is state law does not allow us to put the names and pictures of people with juvenile or misdemeanor convictions on the website. While the site will let you know if those types of offender are living in your area, to get their name and picture you’ll have to stop by the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction for that address.
Kids need to be educated too. Let them know if there’s a house in your neighborhood you don’t want them playing in front of, or if there’s a neighbor you don’t want them to trick-or-treat at. Don’t let them go door-to-door for fundraisers. And, when your kids are out, know who they are with. What most people don’t consider is most sex offenders, including SVPs, are people the victim knows. If you ever suspect there’s something inappropriate going on with your child start asking questions and look into it.
There’s one more key piece of information you need to consider when we talk about SVPs. The law says unless there are specific restrictions placed on them when they are sentenced, SVPs have the same right to live wherever they want, just like you do. We as a police department can’t regulate that. So, if an SVP does move into your neighborhood, and you don’t like that, you still don’t have the right to harass, threaten, or intimidate the offender or the offender’s family. There’s a major benefit to you and the community for the anti-vigilantism law- we don’t want sex offenders to go underground and hide. If we can continue to have our sex offenders register their addresses and places of work with us, then we can keep track of them and know where they are. That gives you as a member of the community more power to make informed choices, and that is exactly what we want.
If you ever have questions regarding sex offenders, feel free to stop by the police department at 625 Ute Ave. or call us at 970-244-3555. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation also offers information on the web regarding sex offenders.