For the last 11 years, Sgt. Jonathan Gann has worked in many different areas of the Salt River Police Department (SRPD), but for the past two years Gann and three other staff members have been devoted to protecting the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community by keeping its members aware of sex offenders living in and around the Community.
The Community has elected to maintain its sovereign authority over sex-offender registrations. Therefore, the SRPD will register, track and monitor all sex offenders residing in, working in or attending school in the Community, in accordance with the Adam Walsh Act of 2006 and the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), rather than turning this work over to an outside agency.
According to the SRPMIC Web site, the Community has enacted key provisions of SORNA. All qualifying sex offenders within the SRPMIC boundaries are required to register with the SRPD. In addition, the SORNA compliance process establishes the SRPMIC Sex Offender Registry Web site as a publicly accessible registry. The Sex Offender Registry is maintained by SRPMIC and SRPD Special Investigations.
Sex offenders are classified into three categories: Tier I, Tier II and Tier III. Tiers are determined by the type of crime of which the offender was convicted. Tier III crimes are the most serious. Tier I offenders must register once a year for 15 years; Tier II offenders must register every 180 days for 25 years; and Tier III offenders must register every 90 days for their lifetime.
Registration is mandatory for individuals in the Community who have been convicted of, admitted to under oath, or pleaded guilty or no contest to, in any jurisdiction, a registrable sexual offense; for example, sexual conduct with a minor, aggravated sexual abuse, rape, molestation of a child, oral copulation with a minor, or sodomy with a child.
A registered sex offender is prohibited from residing or working within 2,000 feet of, or loitering within 500 feet of, the residence of the victim of the crime for which he or she is registered and/or any school, preschool or day care center; playground or youth center; public swimming pool; marked bus stop; temporary or permanent amusement center or event; or any facility where children receive services, go to for sports, games or other entertainment, or otherwise gather together. Also, a registered sex offender is prohibited from residing in a household with children under the age of 18.
To help notify and educate the Community about sex offenders in the area, the SRPD has placed the Sex Offender Registry online (srpmic.nsopw.gov). For each sex offender, the Web site provides a photo, physical description, address and type of crime.
“The SORNA team creates fliers for public dissemination and will begin notifying neighbors if a sex offender moves into their neighborhood,” said Gann. “The SRPD has presented at Council and district meetings regarding sex offenders and sex offenses. We have also reached out to the Boys and Girls Clubs, group homes, Community centers and churches to educate the public about these types of crimes.”
If someone is found to be in violation of the sex-offender ordinance, the SORNA team has the ability to make an arrest and/or submit criminal complaints to the Tribal Prosecutors Office and Court. The consequences for these violations vary; if convicted, an offender could be sentenced to 180 to 365 days in custody and a fine ranging from $2,000 to $5,000, explained Gann.
The SORNA detectives have also made themselves available to answer any questions about SORNA.
“In regards to advice, we encourage families to report any allegations of misconduct to the police immediately. The quicker the police become involved, the faster we can stop the abuse from recurring,” said Gann. “We are protecting the children and our future, and it shouldn’t hurt to be a child.”