Monday, March 10, 2008

New Members Added to County's Sex Offender Tracking Team

A Riverside County law enforcement team responsible for keeping track of convicted sex offenders living in the county has two new members, thanks to state corrections officials, it was announced Friday.

Two Department of Corrections parole agents have been added to Riverside County's Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Team, which includes a cross-section of county and municipal law enforcement officers working daily to ensure convicted sex offenders are in compliance with state law.

"Successful tracking of these sexual predators would not be possible without the SAFE Team and the support and cooperation of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation working together to keep our communities safe," said Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco.

He and state corrections Secretary James Tilton released a joint statement announcing the new SAFE Team members and highlighting the "important task" of ensuring the "public's safety from potential predators."

"It is essential that we do our best to equip the (team) with appropriate resources and personnel," Tilton said.

Roughly 3,300 registered sex offenders reside in the county and, according to one recent statistic, an estimated 18 percent fail to comply with California Penal Code section 290, the state's version of "Megan's Law" requiring sex offenders to register their location every year or after moving.

The SAFE Team, formed in May 2006, includes investigators from the D.A.'s office, sheriff's department, county probation department, California Department of Justice, Banning police, Corona police -- and now the state Department of Corrections, according to district attorney's office spokeswoman Ingrid Wyatt.

She said the team consists of five regional compliance units and one countywide administrative unit.

Operations include monitoring and surveillance of sex offenders, compliance checks and group home inspections, Wyatt said.

The team made 316 arrests last year, she said.

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