CARMEL – Local officials said they intend to improve public awareness of registered sex offenders living in Carmel after a resident told them Monday that the town was becoming a haven for such offenders.
Three sex offenders required to register with the state have moved into town in recent months, according to town officials, who wondered what could be done to best protect residents. They also puzzled over why Carmel, despite efforts to ward them off, seemingly is becoming an attractive location for sex offenders.
“We really don’t like them, we don’t want them, we’re publishing their pictures, so it’s not like we’re openly friendly to these people,” said Suzan Rudnicki, the Board of Selectmen’s chairperson.
James Feeney, a resident and father of two young children, prompted discussion of the subject at Monday’s board meeting. Feeney said he was concerned that not enough was being done to warn parents and children about the sex offenders, some of whom are considered medium to high risk of repeating their offenses.
Notification of sex offenders in town was partially the reason behind publishing a quarterly town newsletter – which goes out to 1,180 people – according to town officials, but Feeney said the most recent notice of a new sex offender on the back page of the newsletter didn’t stand out enough, making it easy for residents to miss.
Among Feeney’s suggestions to “ratchet up” notification about sex offenders was a more prominent presence of sex offender information in the newsletters as well as a “board of predators” consisting of their pictures at the town office to allow current residents and people moving in to identify them. Such information could be put up elsewhere in town, perhaps in schools, it was suggested.
Feeney also recommended a townwide meeting be held, led by the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, to provide information about the sex offenders. Feeney wanted annual photographs taken of sex offenders so they can’t hide behind facial hair and other changes.
“I think as members of our community, we have an obligation to do everything we can to notify and prevent these individuals from perpetrating their heinous crimes against us,” Feeney told the selectmen.
Board members indicated that they shared Feeney’s deep concern, but some also acknowledged that there was a difference between not wanting sex offenders in their community and forcing them out. Board members said that as ugly as sex offenses are, they were against vigilante justice.
“We can’t run them out of town, per se – there’s nothing we can do. Just know that they are there,” Rudnicki said.
She said the board will look at what options they have and what actions the town can take to maximize awareness of sex offenders in town.