We say

Published 8:30 pm Sunday, August 10, 2008

We go to movies with them, sit next to them at restaurants and live in the same neighborhoods. Sexual offenders are everywhere. They are not confined to racial or socio-economic barriers and certainly not unique to one area.

Growth in Shelby County means an increase in sex offenders. In the past year alone, Shelby County has registered more sex offenders than at this point last year. The good news is that a majority of the increase is because of population growth, and not crime. However, it doesn’t take away the importance of knowing where these people live, work or spend their Saturday nights.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office works with local police departments to keep tabs on registered offenders and act quickly when they find out that one fails to notify a change of address. But law enforcement officials can’t do it by themselves, especially when the rate grows by 10-15 percent each year.

It is important that we know our surroundings, and recognize when someone moves in.

It’s tempting to think that such sexual predators don’t live near us, but look at the map, look at the statistics — they do.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, 80 percent of all addresses have a registered offender living within a mile.

Residents of Shelby County need to keep watch. Taking advantage of public service items such as this week’s special section and the listing of offenders at www.shelbyso.com will help keep you informed of where sexual offenders are.

In addition to theses services, an e-mail can be sent to notify you when an offender moves within a mile of you, your relatives or your child’s school or favorite playground.