One after the other, half a dozen people in Sweetwater were visited by police. Authorities wanted to make sure they’re not living too close to an area where children congregate or have moved from their address where they’re registered as a sexual offender.
“We visit them to let them know we know they are there and we’re monitoring them,” Michelle Hammontree-Garcia said, the communications director for the police.
Friday afternoon, Sweetwater Police made their rounds knocking on doors. They do it every month as part of their sexual predator visitation program. It started in 2005 when the city passed a law banning sexual predators from living 2,500 feet or closer to places like schools and parks. That distance is actually 1,000 feet more than required by the state.
“It’s quite difficult for a predator to move to the city of Sweetwater,” Hammontree-Garcia said. “To top that off, when you lease any property, you have to pass a background check.”
NBC 6 cameras rode along with officers as they visited six predators homes: Luis Gallo, Federico Valladares, Rafael Garrido, Azari Gonzalez, Ferrys Miranda, and Julio Arias. At least five of them are guilty of crimes against a child. But it’s not just offenders who need to be on the lookout. People living in Sweetwater need to be watching their community too – especially parents. Police are helping them with that also.
“We’re going to put the pictures and addresses of these predators on our newsletters, website, we have a TV channel – Comcast 77, to keep our residents aware of who’s living around them.”
Predators who violate the laws in Sweetwater have to pay fines and may also be sent to jail. The same goes to someone who may rent a property without running a background check on a tenant.