EUGENE, Ore. — The number of sex offenders in Oregon is the second highest per capita in the country, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Oregon State Police says the system to track sex offenders isn’t up to date because there hasn’t been enough staffing over the years to maintain the system. The main problem starts at the registration process, which troopers say is basically on the honors system.
There are more than 25,000 registered sex offenders in Oregon, but the state’s sex offender website only lists 2.5 percent. OSP says it’s because the system is tough to enforce.
“It can be difficult to try and track non-compliant sex offenders down because the registration is somewhat on an honors system,” said Lt. Gregg Hastings, OSP Spokesman.
Lt. Hastings says once convicted, sex offenders are responsible for registering themselves; if they don’t, they could be arrested.
The problem lies in finding the offenders because the sex offender registry is organized at the state level. Local law enforcement aren’t aware of the day-to-day activities of sex offenders.
“That’s why they fall through the cracks. It’s because we don’t know. When we find out is when an officer on the street or one of our detectives come into contact with someone and they’re listed in the computer as out of date or having not registered,” said Sgt. Rich Charboneau, Springfield Police.
Sgt. Charboneau says it’s only by chance police come into contact with sex offenders, like on a traffic stop or if a citizen reports something.
Eugene Police say their main concern with sex offenders is finding out if their records are up to date.
“If we encounter someone who’s a registered sex offender, we’ll ask them where they live and how long they’ve lived there and make sure that those records match the records that are file with OSP,” said Detective Ben Hall, Eugene Police Department.
OSP says there were 67 reports of failure to register as a sex offender this year in Lane County. It says they’re working to add an additional staff member to the 12-member sex offender registration unit, which oversees the state program. It’s working to improve the sex offender website as well.