Deputy addresses concerns over sex offenders at Sherman Town Board

by Rodney Schroeter
of The Review staff

SHERMAN — “We’re concerned about the sex offenders that were moved onto Abbott Drive. I feel that was handled poorly. The public should have been notified.”

Those remarks from a Sherman resident were made during the public comments section of the town’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the night of Tues., Sept. 6.

“I didn’t move out to this area, back twenty years ago, to have to lock my doors, lock my cars, lock my kids up, load my guns, and not know anything about this [expletive] that’s going on,” another resident told the board. “And I’m very, very angry.”

“And who is your anger directed towards?” Town Chairman William Goehring asked the resident. “Do you think the Town Board has some control over this?”

One resident said he didn’t know who has control over who moves into a neighborhood, but he asked the board if Jeffrey Dahmer moved into the neighborhood, “would you be OK with that?”

Goehring said, “That decision is made by both the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health Services. The local unit of government has very little, if any, control over it.”

The resident referred to a letter he’d received on Aug. 29, which said no harassment would be tolerated. “It’s about time the law-abiding taxpayers get privileges like that, instead of these guys moving into our neighborhood,” he said, and added concerns for his family’s safety.

Sgt. Anthony Blodgett of the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department was in the audience. He explained the process of placement of released sex offenders. First, the state finds a house. Officers then contact people within 1500 feet of that house.

The female resident made a comment and Blodgett responded, indicating the two had discussed this concern previously. “You’re not in the city, Officer,” she said.

“I understand that,” Blodgett replied, and continued: “Fifteen hundred feet is the requirement we have, to see if there are children living in that fifteen hundred feet. They’re not. We report that back to the state. The state says ‘OK.’

“That’s really all we have,” Blodgett said. “As far as notification, it is on our plate to notify. Capt. Roeseler went out personally. He went out, attempted contact with the surrounding residences.” Roeseler left a letter for those he was unable to contact personally.

“There was a press release, I believe,” continued Blodgett. “And, by law, we can’t give out any more information. I don’t know who these guys are. I don’t keep track of them because that’s not my job. That’s on the state. I can tell you from the other sex offenders that live in the county, they are tracked very closely.”

Blodgett said one sex offender in Sheboygan county was not allowed to leave his house. “Couldn’t walk outside,” Blodgett said. “The minute he walked outside, we were called, we were at his house.”

Blodgett said the GPS is real-time. “There are people watching, and there is an alert that says, ‘He’s outside that zone.’ The guy I’m talking about couldn’t even take his garbage to the road, without asking. He got picked up once, because he went to the road without his escort, for garbage.

“The restrictions are very heavy,” Blodgett said. Addressing concerns one resident expressed over the effectiveness of GPS monitoring, Blodgett said that as soon as the battery dies, or the person doesn’t check in, or there is some other problem with the GPS, “we go look.” He explained, however, that the GPS monitoring is done by the state, not Sheboygan County.

“I can’t harass these people, just because they’re deemed a sex offender,” Blodgett told the residents. The residents expressed frustration and Blodgett recommended they talk to legislators at the state level. “There’s nothing we can do about it. Someone sold them the house.”

The residents were concerned with the sex offenders committing further offenses. Their statements became more animated. One resident recommended that the letter of notification he received be distributed to everyone in Sherman, or published in the Sounder.

“I think the issue is that the deputy has explained to you that the town really can’t do anything,” said Goehring. “I think you need to direct your concern to the governor and to the state legislators.”

The residents continued to express concerns about their children, the effectiveness of the GPS monitors on the sex offenders, and the fact that the sex offenders were living near them.

Goehring asked the residents if they understood that neither the town nor the Sheriff’s Department could do anything about the situation.

Blodgett said he could understand their concern, because he has young children. He took a deep breath. “They’ve done their time. And I get it. But they’ve clearly shown something, that they can be released, somewhat.” (One resident asked, “Really?” after each of Blodgett’s sentences.)

The conversation became a little calmer, with one person talking at a time.

“I can’t give a good answer to ‘What if?’” Blodgett said. “Because it is just a ‘What if?’. We can’t play games with ‘What if?’s. It’s (one) not healthy, because it’s going to drive you crazy. And (two) playing a game of ‘What if?’s is going to get you pent up and aggressive, and that’s not good.”

Blodgett again suggested the residents contact their state legislators with their concerns. He recommended writing them letters and calling them frequently.

“That’s a long process,” a resident said.

“It is,” Blodgett agreed. “But you have to start somewhere. Starting here [at the town board meeting], angry and upset, is not going to do it for you.” Going to the state legislators, he said, would at least start a process.

Goehring added that hand-written letters and phone calls are more effective than emails. He thanked the residents for expressing their concerns.

By the end of the meeting, some of the residents expressing their concerns to Blodgett had left. But one resident who had stayed said the letter area residents received gave the wrong address of where the sex offenders were being housed. She asked, if it were not permitted to publicly post where they lived, how would people know not to go trick or treating there?

This resident said she’d found there are 47 sex offenders within a 10-mile radius of ZIP Code 53075; 17 within five miles; under five miles, there are nine. She said six of the nine committed offenses against children.

Klatt made the point that, in past times, there were sexual offenders who’d been released after serving time, “but then, the law did not require authorities to notify everyone, or anyone at all.”

Klatt distributed a copy of an article from the August 2016 issue of the Wisconsin Towns Association Magazine, with questions and answers about ordinances restricting where sexual offenders can live.

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