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In the majority of cases, neither the public nor local law enforcement are notified by the state, and offenders are moved into our community without notice. The only time local law enforcement is notified is when the offender is under the supervision of the Department of Probation and Parole, is currently subject to specific restrictions and/or is a high risk offender. Having said that, the McFarland Police Department does take extra measures to be aware of changes.
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Typically, there are anywhere from five to 10 registered sex offenders within the Village proper. There typically are, however additional offenders that reside outside of the Village but may technically have a McFarland ZIP code or address. This would include areas such as the Township of Dunn and the City of Madison on the north side of Siggelkow Road. These numbers change on somewhat of a regular basis.
In the event that we are notified of a high risk offender moving into the Village, a variety of notification techniques may be implemented, including neighborhood specific notifications, community notification meetings and information being posted on our website.
In the event of a low risk offender, such as one who’s crime was committed several years prior and has not re-offended and is no longer under supervision or any kind of restrictions, consistent with the practices of most law enforcement agencies we do not conduct notifications. This would be an offender that we were not notified of by the state and is no longer deemed to be a threat by the state. There have been times that we have gone outside of this guideline due to unique circumstances.
The public is encouraged to visit the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry website on a regular basis to check for changes in their neighborhood, as they have access to the same information that law enforcement does. Another resource is the National Sex Offender Registry.
The McFarland Police Department conducts regular compliance checks of all listed sex offenders within the Village. Our investigative staff maintains a map within the police department showing locations of each offender and case details.
If an offender is found to be out of compliance, the Department of Corrections is immediately notified. Our officers follow the directions given by their staff, which could range from taking the individual immediately into custody to generating a police report and forwarding it to their office, depending on the severity of the violation. If a crime has committed, we would proceed with an arrest.
In the event that a community notification is warranted, a significant amount of time will be spent creating and distributing offender or meeting information, and conducting the actual meetings. Compliance checks generally take the better part of two eight-hour days, with a minimum of two officers conducting the checks.
In a legal sense, the balance between the public’s need to know and the offender’s expectation of privacy can be difficult. Having said that, our department will always defer precedence to the interests of public safety when making notification decisions, and as allowed within the notification guidelines of the Department of Corrections. Our Department keeps close tabs on the offenders listed in our Village, and is comparatively more assertive in our notification strategy than many other communities.
I encourage residents to not only check the sex offender registry on a regular basis, but also to take some time to review the safety tips, recommendations and general offender facts found on the website. The site offers valuable information regarding co-existence with offenders, and many times dispels misinformation about offenders, community notification and community safety.
A variety of restrictions can be placed upon an offender depending on the crime and their current status.