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Washington Avenue residents concerned with sex offender house

Residents in the 900 block of Washington Avenue took the opportunity Tuesday evening to voice their concerns over what seems to them to be a large concentration of sex offenders living in a home in their neighborhood.

Libby Parins, a deployment behavioral health psychologist with the Center for Deployment Psychology at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma and a resident of Washington Avenue, said the house in question is the only house on her street she is afraid to get to know and she is concerned with how so many offenders can be concentrated in one area.

“A quarter of these ‘Level 3s’ have been placed in one house on the 900 block of Washington Avenue across the street from a school bus stop and two houses down from me and my 5-year-old,” she said. “I am wondering how that kind of concentration can happen.”

Bremerton Police Department Detective Sgt. Kevin Crane and Andrew Oakley, BPD’s community resource officer and retired detective, met with the public at Kitsap Community Resources’ office on Park Avenue to present information on sex offenders and inform the community of the 20 Level 3 sex offenders who reside within the city limits.

“There’s over 20,000 (registered sex offenders) in the state,” Oakley said. “There’s 792 in the county, 49 of those are Level 3’s. We have 20 of the 49. We have a total of 211, that’s Level 1’s, 2’s and 3’s.”

Cities like Bremerton have larger concentrations of these sex offenders because cities have the services needed by recently released individuals, according to Crane.

“Stability is one reason we have a lot of them living in the city,” Crane said. “This is where the transit lines are. This is where DSHS is. This is where DOC is. This is where all the services are so it’s much easier for these offenders to live in the city.”

Eldon Veil, secretary for Washington Department of Corrections, said there are only 15 landlords in Kitsap County who will rent to sex offenders, and the law dictates their return to Kitsap.

“By law, they are supposed to return to the county in which they were picked up,” he said. “So these people are not moving to Kitsap County, they are coming back to Kitsap County.”

Former City Council member David Farr said he was afraid his community was becoming “a sex offender neighborhood” and he urged the crowd to contact elected officials to voice their concerns.

Robbyn Myers, one of the 15 landlords who offer housing to offenders in the county, said the offenders have paid their debt to society and are just looking to get their lives back on track.

“These people want a second chance,” she said. “They’re trying to make things right.”

But citizens like new resident Jan Clayton-Bryant, said they are still worried about the neighborhood’s school-age children catching the bus.

The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office has launched a new Internet-based software program to enhance the monitoring of sex offenders throughout the county and Oakley encourages concerned citizens to use the service at www.kitsapgov.com/sheriff/.

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