Sex Offender Registration & Notification

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This directive is for internal use only and does not enlarge an employee’s civil liability in any way. The directive should not be construed as creating a higher duty of care, in an evidentiary sense, with respect to third party civil claims against employees. Violations of this directive, if proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office for non-judicial administrative action in accordance with the rules and laws governing employee discipline.
DIRECTIVE TYPE: Policy SUBJECT: Sex Offender Registration & Notification NUMBER: OPER-341.00
APPROVED BY: Sheriff Ken Christesen EFFECTIVE DATE: 3/5/2017
NMLEA STANDARDS: ADM.27.01 LAST MODIFIED: 1/23/2017 LAST REVIEW: 2/14/2017


PURPOSE:


The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (NMSA 29-11A-1 through 29-11A-10) places multiple responsibilities on the county sheriff in regards to the registration and notification of sex offenders. To better protect its citizens and fulfill the requirements set forth by state statute, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office has created a Sex Offender Registration & Notification Unit to handle these duties.


This policy establishes the duties and responsibilities of the Sheriff’s Office Sex Offender Registration & Notification Unit.


POLICY:


The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office Sex Offender Registration & Notification Unit, while working within the parameters of state law and in partnership with the law enforcement community, will complete the appropriate registrations, notifications, and investigations of applicable registered sex offenders.


DEFINITIONS:


The following definitions shall apply for the purposes of this policy:


  • OffenderWatch® – A third-party database system supported by the State of New Mexico Department of Public Safety and utilized by the Sheriff’s Office for sex offender registration and notification purposes.


  • Registered Sex Offender – Any individual who is convicted of a sex offense in any United States jurisdiction, including convictions for sex offenses under federal, military, state, territorial, tribal, or local law.


  • Sex Offender Registration and Notification Unit – Certified and civilian Sheriff’s Office personnel assigned to handle the requirements set forth in the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Referred to as the “SORNA Unit”.


PROCEDURE:


SORNA UNIT STRUCTURE & RESPONSIBILITIES


Operationally and administratively, the SORNA Unit falls within the Sheriff’s Office Special Enforcement Team which is ultimately supervised by the Detective Lieutenant. The Unit consists of, at minimum, a certified deputy and a civilian technician. The specific duties of each position are detailed in their respective job descriptions.


The SORNA Unit has the responsibility of organizing and completing registrations and validations of sex offenders on a regular basis as well as conducting initial and follow-up investigations of all sex offender violations to include, but not limited to, failures to register and failures to notify of a change of address. The Unit is also responsible for maintaining an internal sex offender file for all registered sex offenders within San Juan County. When necessary, the Unit will work with outside agencies in order to complete these registrations and validations and will communicate with the New Mexico Department of Public Safety to assure the Sheriff’s Office is in compliance with all applicable state laws.


When approved through the chain of command, deputies from other divisions within the agency may be assigned to work with the SORNA Unit for sex offender verifications.


SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION (ADM.27.01)


Sex offender registration is the primary duty of the SORNA Unit technician. In the event the technician is unavailable, registration duties may be completed by the SORNA Unit deputy or any employee cross trained in the process.


Registrations are completed at the Sheriff’s Office located in Aztec, NM and are by appointment only. Walk-ins wishing to register who have not made an appointment may be required to wait in the front lobby until an opening becomes available.


SORNA Unit personnel will utilize the OffenderWatch® database to complete sex offender registrations and ensure that all information required by law and agency directives is properly recorded and disseminated. In addition to database entries, registration duties may include, but are not limited to:


  • Clarifying past convictions to NM law.
  • Interviewing the offender to collect additional information as needed.
  • Maintaining files and a records retention schedule.
  • Making notifications to other law enforcement agencies.
  • Entering and transmitting data to state and national sex offender databases and public sex offender registries as required by federal law or state law.
  • Obtaining fingerprints and/or DNA samples of sex offenders.


When a convicted sex offender has relocated within San Juan County as a resident or for employment or school purposes, and are required to register, the Sheriff’s Office will accept the offender and process the registration.


VERIFICATIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS


Sex offender verifications and investigations of violations are the primary responsibility of the SORNA Unit deputy.


The SORNA Unit deputy will regularly verify sex offenders’ registered place of residence and employment by means and intervals deemed appropriate by the Unit supervisor. These verifications may include, but are not limited to, in-person and telephonic means.


The SORNA Unit deputy is also responsible for investigating all claims and/or reports of sex offenders that move to, or are temporary located within, San Juan County for any violations of federal, state, or municipal registration laws.


If a sex offender fails to comply with federal or state registration laws, the SORNA Unit deputy will complete an investigation, file the appropriate charges when necessary, and assist the District Attorney’s Office with the prosecution. If a sex offender is found to be in violation of a municipal registration law, the deputy will immediately notify the agency with jurisdiction and document that a notification was made.


In the event a deputy who is not attached to the SORNA Unit comes into contact with a documented sex offender during the course of their duties, he or she should notify the SORNA Unit of the circumstances surrounding the contact. This contact can be made via email and, at a minimum, should include the date, time, location, reason for contact, vehicle information, and any other details deemed pertinent. In the event a deputy comes into contact with a sex offender from out of state who is not registered with San Juan County, he or she should immediately notify the Unit via phone to assess the situation.


NOTIFICATIONS (ADM.27.01)


At times, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act requires the Sheriff’s Office to make notifications of a sex offender’s status to certain government and public entities. Through the use of OffenderWatch®, these notifications are automatically processed. An exception to this is when a registered sex offender moves to San Juan County from another jurisdiction. In these cases, a notification to the law enforcement agency from the jurisdiction where the offender moved from must be manually made.


For community awareness and safety, a public access database through OffenderWatch® is maintained on the Sheriff’s Office website.


SORNA EDUCATION AND TRAINING


Personnel assigned to the SORNA Unit will receive initial and maintenance training deemed necessary to maintain knowledge of sex offender laws and administrative requirements.


ADMINISTRATIVE:


Pursuant to the Sheriff’s Office Specialized Positions Policy, to be eligible for the SORNA Unit deputy position, a deputy must be in good standing and off probation.


CROSS REFERENCES:


  1. Sex Offender Registration & Notification [Chapter 29 Article 11A NMSA 1978]
  2. SJCSO Policy ADMN-109.00 “Specialized Positions”