MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KJCT)-- Mesa County has an alarmingly high number of registered sex offenders living in our communities. In a few months, the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office will be charging offenders to register, to offset costs, so they can continue to track these criminals.
“It does worry me just because I do have a 3-year-old little boy," said Heather Malecki, a local mother.
The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and local police departments track and register sex offenders in the area. They collect information such as a person’s home address, email, vehicle description and sometimes websites they visit.
According to SOTAR, an online registering site and map MCSO uses, along with stats from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Mesa County has nearly 680 sex offenders. That’s compared to around 76 in Montrose County and 84 in Delta County.
The number is even high even compared to other parts of the state.
“When you look at other jurisdictions of similar size, that serve the same amount of people, ours has about 33 percent more sex offenders,” said Henry Stoffel, spokesperson for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office. “Typically we look at Weld County or Pueblo County to compare."
We put the map to test around town. A mom at Lincoln Park was willing to enter her address into the sex offender map.
It showed she had around 76 sex offenders living within a one-mile radius of her home.
“What are you supposed to do? You let them go outside and play and now I’m going to double think that,” Malecki said. “Like how close I watch him more or less or the people that do come around our area that I don’t know.”
We tested out a few other areas around town, including Clifton and Fruita.
The sheriff's office said it's not sure why the number of offenders in our area is so high. One reason could be is the Grand Junction is the largest city in-between Salt Lake City and Denver.
Law enforcement also said some counties, charge a fee for sex offenders to register in their communities. Currently, agencies in our area do not, which could be a draw.
“You don’t want to make it a comfortable place for them to live,” said Captain Todd Rowell with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.
However, Mesa County officials are looking to implement this registration fee in November.
The sheriff's office said it will help authorities continue to track sex offenders using their online database, which can be costly.
“To offset that cost, the state allows us to charge,” Stofell said. “It's a very minimal charge, $75 for an initial registration and $25 for an annual or quarterly registration."
That fee will go into effect across the county on November 1st.
If you would like to access the Mesa County Sheriff’s online database: https://www.sotar.us/sotar-public/initPublicIndexRedirect.do