Dealing with sex offenders

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The search is on for Clarence Brian Dean.

A registered sex offender, Dean filed his Helena address with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office as required by state law, but when deputies came looking for him recently, he was nowhere to be found.

&8220;There was question about him being involved in another crime in Madison County,&8221; said Chief Deputy John Samaniego. &8220;We went to check on him and he was gone.&8221;

The incident landed Dean on Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry’s most wanted list.

The 35-year-old Dean is wanted on charges that he failed to comply with the Community Notification Act, the legislation requiring convicted sex offenders to register with the local sheriff anytime they change residence.

Keeping up with Dean and some 90 other registered sex offenders listed on Shelby County’s roster has been a high priority for Curry and his office.

&8220;We take all of this very seriously because there is no way to know who might offend again,&8221; Curry said.

This spring, Curry assigned two deputies to a two-week verification patrol to make sure everyone on the roster was where they were supposed to be.

Of the county’s 90 inventoried sex offenders, three were non-compliant, leading to two arrests and an outstanding warrant.

&8220;The problem with the system is that we could verify with them today and they could leave in the morning,&8221; Curry said. &8220;It’s really hard to keep up with all of them.&8221;

That’s where Curry hopes an information campaign can help public awareness.

While the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for notifying anyone living within 2,000 feet of a sex offender’s registered address, the public can also search the registry by name and location through the office’s website,

The cities of Alabaster, Calera and Pelham each handle their own notifications, but work closely with the sheriff’s office, Curry said.

By visiting the website, citizens can pull detailed information on registered offenders including name, aliases, physical descriptions, photographs, nature of conviction and even a map to the offender’s address.

There is also an option to sign up for e-mail alerts to send notification any time an offender moves within a mile of a specified address.

Curry hopes the website, along with extensive training of Sheriff’s Office employees, will help make recent changes to the Communtiy Notification Act as effective as possible in Shelby County.

Curry also noted the public’s role.

&8220;I highly recommend that parents be aware of who their children are associating with.&8221;

As concerns grow over the location of sex offenders displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Curry is asking the public to be even more diligent to aid law enforcement officers.

&8220;It’s a very difficult situation,&8221; Curry said. &8220;Unquestionably, there are sex offenders that have left those areas. You have to count on some public knowledge.&8221;