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Cape to look at predator notification program

By Staff | Jul 24, 2010

On Monday Cape Coral City Council will consider repealing a resolution which provides for resident notification of sexual predators and sexual offenders who reside within city limits through mailings.
The city could save approximately $40,000 by suspending the mailings, according to City Spokeswoman Connie Barron.
Councilmember Bill Deile said the issue becomes cost savings versus public safety, adding he had not yet fully vetted those cost savings.
“I haven’t made the cost benefit analysis,” Deile said. “I don’t know what the mailing costs really are, though there might be a more expeditious way to do it.”
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said the mailing cost is significant.
He added there are often people on the sexual offender and predator lists who have long since paid for their mistakes, and now pose little to no threat.
Often, he added, statistics have shown that family members or people close to victims are committing these crimes, something the city cannot defend against.
“One of the frustrations of this, is that crime statistics often show that pedophiles are family friends or family,” he said. “It’s often someone that knows the child, not a stranger.”
Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz said the amount saved from the mailings could mean another job within the city.
Like McGrail, he added that sexual predators are often in places the city’s mailing can’t affect.
“A significant majority of child predators are family members, close family friends, trusted clergy and those individuals who have the opportunity to access children,” he said. “In other words, they’re not strangers.”
“Why do we keep asking government to take responsibility for what we as citizens and parents should cover?” he asked.
Councilmember Erick Kuehn, who sponsored the item, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
City Council’s regular voting meeting is Monday, 4:30 p.m., at city hall.
Meanwhile, interim Police Chief Jay Murphy said Friday he is planning on presenting council with an alternative. The city could choose to replace the mail notification program with phone notifications.
Murphy said he continues to research various options and the city could implement, if it wishes, a system similar to that used by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
“We can use Code Red and make the phone calls, make ‘blast’ phone calls, to everyone within a particular area or neighborhood and update when needed” Murphy said Friday. “We can do that at relatively no cost to the city.”
As proposed, the city could make calls annually in September and then make followup calls. Every affected household with a landline would get a generic call advising them that an offender or predator lives in their neighborhood. They would be advised to check the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website for details or to call the Cape Coral Police Department for more information. Residents who wish to do so could add business lines or cell phones.
There are currently 675 registered sex offenders or predators living in Lee County. An estimated 150 live in Cape Coral.
They are required, by law, to provide their address, and any change of address to law enforcement.
These listings, which include a photo, name, address and type of offense, may be found on line on the FDLE website, offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/homepage.do or via a link on the city’s homepage at capecoral.net
Residents can search by name, address or neighborhood.