Police chief: Fairview overloaded with sex offender registrations

Police chief: Fairview overloaded with sex offender registrations »Play Video
Fairview police Chief Ken Johnson tells KATU's On Your Side Investigator Anna Canzano that his office is being overrun by sex offenders registering in Fairview but who live in Portland.
FAIRVIEW, Ore. -- It's a sex offender overload for one town, and the offenders don't even live there!
 
It brings up the question - should they be required to register in the city where they live?
 
On Your Side Investigator Anna Canzano talked with Ken Johnson, the police chief of Fairview, who says the way we have sex offenders register has virtually no accountability attached and ties up valuable resources.
 
"I think the sex offender registry law in Oregon is broken and needs to be fixed," said Johnson.
 
Johnson's frustration stems in part from his situation. Fairview is a city of 9,200 people. Most days, he has only one police officer on patrol and one detective working cases. On Tuesday mornings between eight and noon, that one detective is solely devoted to registering sex offenders - the majority of whom don't live in Fairview.
 
"Maybe in a month I have two actual residents from the town come register here," said Detective Eric Flener.
 
The police department's statistics show that last year, of the 259 sex offenders who registered in Fairview, only 13 actually lived in the city of Fairview. One hundred ninety listed Portland as their home and 38 reported they live in Gresham, and 18 said they lived in Troutdale, Wood Village or elsewhere in Multnomah County. According to Oregon law, offenders can register at any city within the county where they live.
 
"I think sex offenders ought to register in the city they reside," said Johnson.
 
Additionally, Johnson says right now police agencies aren't allowed to require that sex offenders bring in a utility bill or some other kind of mail with their name on it to verify their address - a practical method of verification he says would increase accountability.
 
He has the attention of state Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson. 
 
"See this is what we need to be talking about. Why have a system if you can't follow up and see if they're telling the truth?" said Anderson.
 
She's proposing legislation that could help. SB 1508 would modify sex offender registration requirements to allow sex offenders to register with the city police department only if the offender last resided or intends to reside in the city or, if the offender lives out of state, only if offender attends school or works in city.
 
If changes are made, Chief Johnson believes the system is merely police and sex offenders jumping through the hoops, making a community no safer.
     
"If we're going to go through all this work and devote all the resources to registering sex offenders, then we need to do a better job of accountability," said Johnson.