Lufkin Police working to track sex offenders

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It's Texas law for sex offenders to register themselves, but it's up to law enforcement to monitor them.  One Lufkin Police Officer said they've changed the way they do things over the years to try and slow down the re-offending rate of sex offenders.

Jaycee Lee Dugard was found after 18 years.  The man accused of kidnapping and sexually abusing her was a registered sex offender, but how are local sex offenders kept accountable?

"We try to do as much as we can to make sure they comply with what they're supposed to be doing," said Lufkin Police Department Lt. Mike Shapaka.

For the past three years the Lufkin Police Department has changed the way they check up on the city's 43 registered sex offenders.

"We try to limit it to one officer per offender and put the more experienced officers with the more dangerous sex offenders," said Shapaka.

It's a far cry from when they used to have a few officers making all the checks.

"We decided to do it this way, there's no standard format of checking on the offenders," said Shapaka.  "We just feel like this is the best for our department."

One licensed professional counselor said it's not enough for sex offenders to just be watched.

"There is treatment available," said Licensed Professional Counselor Debra Burton.  "Now... they're not all going to be cured, so that's the key is they're going to have to go ahead and have ongoing treatment and I think that's where they start slipping through the cracks."

Shapaka said they're doing what they can, but it's tough when you can't monitor the sex offenders 24/7.

"A lot of times, they do have secret lives we don't know about and they do re-offend, so we could miss something and we're doing the best we can, hopefully we won't miss anything," said Shapaka.  "Now, if the officer feels or I guess if they see that there may be a problem, they can go further and of course they'll dig a little deeper, ask more questions."

"Sixty-three percent of the new sex offenses are committed in that area, in the area that the sexual offender has been identified to live in," said Burton.

She said it's good for the community to be aware of sex offenders, but not to live in fear.

"I just know that there is a large number of them that re-offend and we do worry about that," said Shapaka.  "That is information we look at to see if we can stop that or prevent that.  Sometimes we can't because we can't always be there all the time, but that is in the back of our mind always and we're trying to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen."

Shapaka said they need your help. If you live near a sex offender and see something suspicious, call the police department.

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