Politics & Government

Gregoire aims to keep sex offender tracking program in budget

OLYMPIA — There are a lot of things on the chopping block in Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed biennial budget, but one thing she said she wants to keep is a program to track sex offender registrations.

Gregoire and law enforcement officials said Monday that two programs – one that provides money for law enforcement agencies to verify sex offenders' addresses and one to improve the state's online offender database – are showing results and keeping communities safer.

The $5 million for law enforcement agencies was divvied up among the state's 38 counties and allowed officers to visit offenders' addresses to make sure they were where they claimed to be.

In the Mid-Columbia, some agencies hired more staff to collect and process information about offenders, or to pay overtime so officers could knock on doors.

Franklin County Sheriff Richard Lathim said Monday that his department always has been diligent about verifying the whereabouts of the 225 registered sex offenders in the county, but the $94,107 from the state allowed him, in part, to team up with Pasco to hire a part-time person to do the paperwork to track offenders and keep the database current.

It also paid for training so that officers will be following the same procedures as the rest of the state, because part of the program's goal is consistency in enforcement.

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