According to the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board, Falmouth ranks 30th in the commonwealth in number of dangerous offenders. Thirty-six Level Two sex offenders—those considered to have a moderate risk of reoffending in the future—and 11 Level Three offenders—those whose risk of reoffending is high—live and/or work in Falmouth.
“We are aware of where they're at,” says Sergeant Douglas DeCosta of the Falmouth Police Department. “They're in our in-house system.”
But just as important as official monitoring, DeCosta says, is public awareness. “I think it's best that [Falmouth residents] keep themselves informed,” he says.
That's all the more important because offenders' neighbors are often unaware of their presence. Though provisions may be made for individual offenders on a case-by-case basis, DeCosta says, generally “there are absolutely no restrictions about where a sex offender can live.”
A list of Level Three offenders, including their addresses, places of work, and offenses, is available to the public at the SORB's Web site. The identities of Level Two offenders are not listed on the site, but residents can obtain that information from the FPD by filling out a simple form.
DeCosta says the department receives one or two such requests per week, and that the best thing residents can do is be aware of the presence of any high-risk offenders in their neighborhoods.
“The big one is educating themselves on where the Level Threes are,” he says.
Though the presence of convicted sex criminals can be disturbing, DeCosta says, residents shouldn't assume the only threat to themselves or their children comes from strangers. According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, 90 percent of sex crimes involve “a single offender with whom the victim had a prior relationship [such] as a family member, intimate, or acquaintance.” And most child victims “are abused by someone known to the child or the child's family.”
That, DeCosta says, calls for common sense, watchful parenting, and not just where strangers are concerned.
“In all reality,” he says, “they really need to be aware of where their kids are and who they're with.”