NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFTA) — Registered sex offenders must abide by several restrictions as to where they can live and visit.
Michael Grant, 40, was arrested at the Prairie Grove Aquatic Center last Friday.
Grant is a level 3 sex offender, and because of this, he cannot be at a water park owned or operated by a local government, according to statute 5-14-133 of the Arkansas Code.
Level 3 sex offenders, who are deemed high-risk offenders, and level 4 offenders, who are deemed sexually dangerous persons, can be part of society as long as they adhere to restrictions and regulations imposed by their state’s sex offender laws. Most restrictions pertain to where a sex offender can live.
Prohibiting level 3 and level 4 sex offenders from visiting a water park is a unique restriction. Those sex offenders are allowed to visit other public places that they’re prohibited from living near, according to detective Garrett Levine, who investigates sex crimes and does sex offender management for the Fayetteville Police Department.
“Residing and being at are two different things,” Levine said. “A sex offender can hang out at Lake Fayetteville Park all day long, but he can’t live next to one. They’re free people, but their living options are restricted.”
Level 1 and level 2 sex offenders do not have living restrictions, according to Levine.
Level 3 and level 4 sex offenders are prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of schools, daycares, parks and trails. Level 4 sex offenders are also prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of churches and places of worship, according to detective Paul Newell with the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
“It doesn’t mean they can’t go to a church, it just means they can’t live within 2,000 feet [from one],” Newell said.
Two years ago, the state legislature implemented the statute stating that level 4 sex offenders cannot live within 2,000 feet of a church.
The state legislature frequently creates laws pertaining to sex offenders, according to Jennifer Dean, the state’s area manager of Sex Offender Services for Probation and Parole.
“Sex offenders are always on topic. There’s always discussions that pertains to sex offenders when it comes to community safety,” Dean said.
This most recent legislative session produced new sex offender regulations that go into effect on July 24. One of the new regulations is a change to an existing regulation.
Currently, sex offenders have 10 days to tell authorities about address changes, phone numbers, employment, vehicles they own, operate or can access, and their social media and email accounts. The state legislature changed the 10-day notification requirement to five days in early 2019. The regulation takes effect on July 24, according to Newell.
Sex offenders must stay abreast of restrictions and regulations imposed on them by the state.
“Every six months they come and register with the police department, and they sign and acknowledge that they understand the rules, and they leave with a copy of the rules,” Levine said.
Levine said there are currently 75 registered sex offenders living in Fayetteville.
“There’s not a lot of level fours and threes because we have so many parks and trails,” Levine said.
Lt. Jeff Taylor with the Springdale Police Department said 86 registered sex offenders live in Springdale, including 16 level 1 sex offenders, 58 level 2 sex offenders and eight level 3 sex offenders. There are no level 4 sex offenders currently living in Springdale. Four are pending assessments.
Newell said 185 registered sex offenders live in Benton County areas outside city limits.
Detective Jeffrey Mitchell, the Fort Smith Police Department’s sex offender coordinator, said 325 sex offenders reside in Fort Smith, including 27 level 1 offenders, 188 level 2 offenders, 98 level 3 offenders and five level 4 offenders. Seven are pending assessments.