Colbert officials develop a new plan better notify citizens about sex offenders

The Colbert County Sheriff said he met with local police departments on Friday to develop their new plan of notifying citizens about sex offenders.

Posted: Mar. 26, 2018 5:28 PM
Updated: Mar. 26, 2018 7:29 PM

More changes are coming for the citizens of Colbert County and how they are informed about sex offenders.

Colbert County Sheriff, Frank Williamson, said he met with local police chief's on Friday and they came up with a plan to better inform citizens when sex offenders move into the area.

Last week, WAAY 31 reported that there was a flaw in the system that lead to residents on Highway 43 in Tuscumbia not being informed about registered sex offenders moving near them until weeks later.

"I had a miscommunication and I want to apologize for and to the citizens of Colbert County for that," said Colbert County Sheriff Frank Williamson.

Williamson said a miscommunication between him and the Tuscumbia Police Chief lead to a two week lapse in citizens being notified that two sex offenders had moved into the Four Way Inn. The inn on Highway 43 is now serving as an Outreach Reentry Ministry program, which is set up to help ex felons acclimate back into society. The sheriff says in order to prevent anything like this happening again, a blanket email with a time stamp will be sent to all police departments in the area when a sex offender checks in with his office.

All police departments plus the sheriff's office will take on the task of sending out notifications to citizens. Alabama law says officials must send notifications to people who live within 1,500 feet of a registered sex offender. Williamson said they will go beyond that radius.

"It's going to be above and beyond what the law calls for, they are going to go out 2,000 feet and I will come in behind them and do 2,500 feet," said Williamson.

The sheriffs office along with police departments will notify residents 2,500 feet away from a sex offenders registered home, which is 1,000 feet over what the law calls
for. The sheriff says they will also be sending notifications to every school schools, even if the sex offenders don't live near a school.

"We're going to give the schools a list along with a picture of every sex offender in our county. That way they will have a way of recognizing and identifying these people," said Williamson.

Williamson says he met with local police chiefs and they cleared up the jurisdiction lines on who is supposed to inform residents where. He also says they will be upgrading their website quicker so the public can see where registered sex offenders are living as soon as they register.

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