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Grant helps Federal Way track sex offenders

The Federal Way City Council voted Nov. 18 to accept grant funding designated for tracking sex offenders.

The one-time grant of $51,321 was awarded to the police department by the King County Sheriff's Office. The money will mostly be used to compensate primarily for overtime pay accrued by officers as they confirm addresses for sex and kidnapping offenders registered in Federal Way, according to a Nov. 18 city council agenda bill.

This is the first time Federal Way police have been awarded the grant, Detective K.C. Krusey said. The funds will come in the form of a reimbursement to the police department, retroactive from July 2008 to June 2009. The sheriff's office is charged with tracking the sex offenders in King County. Providing a grant to Federal Way for assistance with this job will lighten the county's workload, Krusey said. It will also allow him more time in the field to ensure the city's 233 registered sex offenders are complying with the law, he said.

"What the grant will do is basically give us more money to get out and talk to these people," Krusey said.

Krusey is alerted by the King County Sheriff's Office each time a registered sex offender moves to the city. His job is to keep track of these people by visiting them at their registered address and confirming the location as well as the offenders' identification.

Level one sex offenders are contacted face-to-face by Federal Way police a minimum of once a year. Level two offenders are contacted in the same way once every six months. Level three offenders are contacted once every 90 days. Officers may visit registered addresses more often in an attempt to find the offender at home or if a crime is reported there, Krusey said.

Sex offenders are categorized based on their presumed likelihood of re-offending. A level three offender is considered the most dangerous. As of Nov. 12, seven level three offenders, 12 level two offenders and 214 level one offenders reside in Federal Way, Krusey said. He is uncertain whether the city houses offenders who have not registered or are homeless, he said.

Given Federal Way's nearly 90,000 population, a few hundred sex offenders is fairly typical, he said.

"(The number of registered offenders is) pretty comparable to other cities," Krusey said. "We have our fair share."

Krusey has the power to adjust an offender's classification level, but rarely does, he said during a Sept. 19 police department Citizen's Academy meeting. He spends much of his days reviewing files and trying to determine the threat sex offenders pose to the public, he said.

Keeping tabs on such offenders became a hot issue during the latest state governor's race. Republican candidate Dino Rossi claimed Democrat Gov. Christine Gregoire lost track of 1,300 sex offenders. This number refers to offenders who do not have an address registered with the Washington State Patrol. A total of a little more than 20,000 offenders are registered with the agency. Those unaccounted for are either homeless or have failed to register a correct address.

Efforts to better locate sex offenders were increased last year after 12-year-old Zina Linnik of Tacoma was kidnapped and murdered by an unregistered sex offender in July 2007. The incident spurned new legislation and the use of global positioning system ankle bracelets for some high-level offenders.

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Check it out:

Number of level two and level three registered sex offenders in South King County and Pierce County cities:

• Renton: 61

• Auburn: 41

• Puyallup: 31

• Kent: 30

• Federal Way: 17 (Federal Way Detective K.C. Krusey documents 19)

• Tacoma: 16

• Des Moines: 8

All information gathered from the Washington State Sex Offender Information Center at http://ml.waspc.org/.

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