Sex offenders cluster in Northeast counties
Published 11:54 pm Sunday, January 25, 2009
County sheriffs at a loss to explain phenomenon
By GREG KATSKI and TED STRONG
Beaufort County is among 10 northeastern North Carolina counties with a high number of registered sex offenders as compared to other counties in the state.
Beaufort has the 11th highest rate of sex offenders per capita in the state. That’s according to the most recent statistics compiled by the North Carolina Sex Offender &Public Protection Registration Programs and 2007 U.S. Census Population Bureau estimates.
Beaufort borders three counties among the top 20 for sex offenders per capita: Martin ranks fifth, Hyde ninth and Washington 14th in the state.
Bertie County ranks first in the state: For every 358 people living there, one is a registered sex offender.
Beaufort County has one registered sex offender for every 538 residents.
North Carolina sex offenders are registered by county through each jurisdiction’s sheriff’s office.
Beaufort County Sheriff Alan Jordan, Hyde County Sheriff David Mason and Washington County Sheriff James Ross all had the same initial reaction to the rankings: Law enforcement agencies in each county are doing a good job of identifying and arresting sex offenders.
Capt. Kenneth Watson with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said the department receives reports of sexual misconduct in several different ways.
But the department doesn’t always receive reports the day of the incident, Watson said, though he demands that each investigation is done properly.
Jordan shares this sentiment.
One difficulty law enforcment officials face is that some sex offenders change locations once they are back out in the community.
Many leave the penitentiary homeless, he added.
Hyde County Sheriff David Mason can pinpoint examples of displaced sex offenders living in his sparsely populated jurisdiction.
The counties’ sheriffs agree that their jurisdictions have too many registered sex offenders.
Washington County Sheriff James Ross was floored by news that his county has 24 registered sex offenders, according to the North Carolina Sex Offender &Public Protection Registration Programs.
The 2007 U.S. Census Population Bureau estimates that 12,915 people live in the county.
Beaufort County has 87 registered sex offenders, according to the program, and an extimated poulation of 45,771.
Hyde has 10 registered offenders and a population of 5,172; while Martin has 55 registered offenders and a population of 23,598.