Tuesday's upsetting news about sexual predators hit disturbingly close to home for those who live near Brainerd or Pequot Lakes.
Item No. 1 was the arrest of a man described as a predatory sex offender in connection with the disappearance of Pequot Lakes' Dru Sjodin.
Item No. 2 was the news that a Level Three sex offender, who has served his prison time but is still subject to community notification laws, has moved to Brainerd.
Even though the two cases aren't thought to be linked in any way, a reading of Tuesday's Brainerd Dispatch can't help but make area residents a little uneasy about their personal safety. The knee-jerk reaction is to question how state officials can let sexual offenders move back into a peaceful community.
A more rationale approach calls for us to acknowledge a few facts.
The sexual offenders who are the subject of these community notification hearings have served their time and aren't wanted by the police. They are free to move anywhere they'd like and aren't placed anywhere by the Minnesota Department of Corrections or by police departments.
Although the community notification process regarding sexual offenders can cause a bit of a ruckus in a small town it's a good system. It takes away the advantage of anonymity which they had in the days when they were released with little fanfare and no community notification.
Forewarned is forearmed. And neighbors of released sexual offenders can alter their personal security arrangements as they see fit, once they learn of the location of someone they perceive as a threat. While the situation may be unsettling notification puts the information and the decision in the hands of the nearby residents. And that's where it should be.
Citizens should be aware. They should be vigilant. They should not harass released sex offenders or try to take the law into their own hands.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.