A state lawmaker from Lincoln County is pushing a bill that would make it easier to track sex offenders when they move.
The bill could help combat the growing problem of sex offenders highlighted in a recent Fox 2/News 11 report.
Missouri State Representative Randy Pietzman calls the issue of sex offenders a crisis and he hopes his bill can help deal with the problem.
House Bill 114 would require anyone convicted of child molestation in the first degree to wear an electronic monitor when they move from one county to another.
Sex offenders would have 72 hours to register with law enforcement in their new county. Once they are in compliance, the monitor would be removed.
“My bill…it goes after the worst of the worst sex offenders,” Pietzman said, adding that the bill “keeps track of them so we don’t have to spend the resources to do it…It’s to free up finances for counties like Lincoln County that they don’t have to go looking for these people. So it’s just going to make a lot easier for them to do their job.”
Pietzman said he has tried to get the bill passed before but it didn’t happen. Now could be the time.
He points to a recent report detailing the high number of sex offenders in Lincoln County and high amount of sex crime investigations at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department as reasons why his bill is important.
“To me this is an epidemic in our state. It’s not so much just about the worst of the worst offenders but all of them. It’s on the rise in our state,” he said.
Lieutenant Andy Binder, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, said the department supports House Bill 114. Binder believes the bill is a first step to solving the larger problem of tracking sex offenders.
Binder said 13 percent of the current registered sex offenders in Lincoln County were convicted of first-degree child molestation.
“It gets the conversation going, especially when we’re dealing with our state reps and our senators to maybe to build on this. It’s a great building block,” Binder said.
“Would we like to see it bigger? Absolutely we would like to see it bigger. But this is a great starting space. It’s a small step in a very large problem. But at least we’re trying to make progress in the right direction.”
The bill would require sex offenders to pay for the electronic monitors and also return them as well.
Pietzman said his bill is set for a hearing on February 4 before the Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee.
“Hopefully this is just the beginning because there’s so much more to it,” he said.
BY CHRIS REGNIER | Fox 2 News