I am writing this letter to bring attention to a very important issue.
An article on the front page, of last Thursday’s Tribune, told us about a Great Bend man pleading guilty to producing child pornography.
He had been listed as a registered sex offender living in GB since December of 2010.
The point I want to make is, how many of us knew where this registered offender was living?
Was he in your neighborhood?
Was he near a school or day care? The fact is, this is all public information.
However, we all get busy with our own lives.
We don’t always pay attention to the people down the street or around the corner or just driving by – but we should!
We want to believe that our children are safe, that our elderly citizens and our disabled citizens are protected. But are they?
All of us need to take a more active part in this, and it all starts with checking the offender registries on line.
The information is there. Information that could help each of us watch our neighborhoods a little closer, protecting those who can’t protect themselves.
But we have to take the step.
I’d like to suggest that each of you cut this letter out of the paper and check the following site every month or so.
You will see the names, faces, ages, addresses, and offenses committed by the people in your zip code, or city, or county.
Don’t use it as a tool for hate, but as a tool for knowledge.
If you learn there is a sex offender in your area – watch them, and most of all, watch the children and others around you.
I call on all of you to take this step.
Parents, teachers, guardians, neighbors, law enforcement, medical personnel – you will be surprised!
They are here and in many neighborhoods.
If this letter prevents even one abuse and protects one child, one older citizen, or one disabled citizen, it will be worth it. I believe rules need to change.
I believe our rights as caring, moral people should be more important than those of registered offenders.
But that will take public support to change the rules, change the zoning, and to change the fact that we are not informed when an offender is moved into our neighborhoods, near day cares, near schools, etc.
Hopefully, that will come later.
But for now, please do your part to protect our community.
We have seen enough violence and sadness, especially over the last year or so in our own city and throughout our country.
I don’t believe some of these criminals and offenders are ever cured.
I believe they pose a threat even after they’ve been released. I believe most will offend again – if given the chance.
Please do what you can do to make Great Bend a safe, loving, wonderful community for all of us to share.
Go to the following website and check out who lives where.
Take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. www.accesskansas.org/kbi/offender_registry/
Or you can just Google Kansas offender registry, and get to the proper site.
You can also print the information off, for future reference.
But please check every month or so – as the listings do change.
Let us all do our part to protect our community.
Leslie (Halbower) Barrett,