Homeless sex offenders on the rise

Homeless sex offenders on the rise
BENTON COUNTY - KEPR is always keeping an eye on the process to track sex offenders in our community.

We learned one-type of offender is on the rise here in the Tri-Cities.

We looked at how you can keep your family safe.

Megan Mahaffey brings her children to Columbia Park almost every week. She feels safe knowing the park is far from homes.

Megan wants to steer clear of the possibility of any sex offenders, saying,

"I don't think they should be allowed to live within in like, 20 miles of a park and a school."

But the offenders she's talking about are the one's who actually follow the rules. They tell law enforcement where they're living.

The number of compliant sex offenders hasn't gone up substantially in several years.

But officials at the Benton County Sheriff's Office are growing concerned about the number of *transient offenders.
They may check-in with deputies, but they don't have a permanent home.
They could be anywhere -- at any time.

There are currently 477 registered sex offenders living in Benton County. 16 are transient.

Law enforcement has no way to proactively checking on them. They have to wait for the offender to make their weekly visit with authorities instead.

16 may not seem like a lot, but it used to hover around three to five.
Having three-times the number of homeless sex offenders is more work -- and more of the unknown.

Checking online can give you some idea of where offenders live.
But the list isn't complete.

If you were to go online to the Benton County Sheriff's website and put in the address for this park, you'd find at least four sex offenders living within two miles, but officials tell me it could be much more."

Leaving it up to parents to be aware -- and stay vigilant -- as the number of homeless sex offenders is on the rise.

We checked for an updated number of transient sex offenders in Franklin County, but that number was unavailable today.

Agencies update as best they can with the time and resources available.