For your protection

Police department to host educational meeting on sexual predator living in area

A sexually violent predator has moved into the local community, Craig Police Department Chief Walt Vanatta said, prompting the department to notify the public as required by state law.

On Wednesday, the Police Department announced it would host an educational meeting regarding the predator and ways to enhance public safety and protection.

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The meeting is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1295 W. Ninth St. It is open to the public.

The identity and address of the predator will not be released until the meeting, Vanatta said.

"We want all of (the information) to come out in the right context," Vanatta said. "If we thought there was an immediate threat, we'd do something different."

The meeting will also cover topics like sex offender legislative history, community notification, community responsibility, general information on sex offenders, victims and management, safety issues and a question-and-answer session.

Sexually violent predators are at a high risk to re-offend and the only category of sexual offenders subject to community notification, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

The Craig Police Department warns residents of using information from next week's meeting for vigilantism, harassment, threats or intimidation of the offender or his family.

Such acts are criminal behavior and "will not be tolerated," police said.

"They've got the same right as any other person in town to go about their lives," Vanatta said.

CBI spokesman Lance Clem said community notification meetings regarding sexually violent offenders have been beneficial to communities around the state.

"It's taken place all over, and it's going to happen more and more often," Clem said. "Generally speaking, they've been very helpful for people to understand how to be vigilant and not panicked."

According to the Craig Police Department's Web site, www.craigpolice.org, there are at least 11 sexual offenders living in Craig and 11 more offenders with last known addresses in Craig.

Their offenses range from felony sexual assault on a child to sexual battery and indecent exposure.

Anyone unable to attend the community meeting may call the Police Department to schedule an appointment to receive information covered Tuesday. For more information, call Becky Otis at 826-2372.

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