A sex offender is now behind bars but was flying under the radar of police for months.
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is a federal law that requires states to maintain a comprehensive system for monitoring and tracking convicted sex offenders.
But if an offender doesn’t comply, they may be walking the streets — invisible to police.
Michelle Ragsdale and her two year old son, Grayson, had no idea they lived across the street from a sexual predator.
And neither did police until recently.
“We are the second largest city in the state so we are going to have more sex offenders that live here,” Cpl. Anthony Rice from the Fort Smith Police Department said.
Fort Smith Police received an anonymous tip that led them to the 900 Block of South 18th Street.
“This case was a man who had been living in Van Buren and had moved to Fort Smith knowingly and did not tell his sex offender coordinator in Van Buren or the special investigations unit here that he had moved,” Fort Smith Police Department said.
35 year old Jeromy Wilson – a Level 3 sex offender – had been living less than a mile away from two childcare services.
“Anytime that we have a Level 3 living in a safe zone like that we are going to check up on that,” Cpl. Rice said.
If offenders do not abide by the Sex Offender Registration Act, they will face a felony.
“Once they are convicted of certain sex offenses they have a requirement to come to the jurisdiction and register as a sex offender,” Cpl. Rice Said.
Cpl. Rice from the fort smith police department says there are 378 sex offenders in Fort Smith that he knows of and when asked if there could be more….
“There’s always that possibility but we do the best that we can with the manpower that we have to make sure they are all in compliance,” Cpl. Rice said.
But Ragsdale says she doesn’t trust felons with that much responsibility.
“I feel like if you are a sex offender already, I am not really going to trust you to conform to the law anyway because you didn’t to begin with,” Michelle Ragsdale said.
The Fort Smith Police Department says anyone can receive notifications about sex offenders in their area.
Citizens can go to fortsmithpd.org and click on the sex offender search section on the left side of the page.
Once registered, citizens will receive email notifications if any sex offenders move into their area.