Sex Offenders May Be Living Next Door

By: Jenny Rabin
By: Jenny Rabin

We have 1,200 registered sex offenders here in Washoe County.

You will only find the six worst sex offenders listed on the city of Reno's website but - with a little work - you can learn if there's a sex offender living in your neighborhood.

In Nevada, sex offenders are divided into three tiers. A tier-1 rating goes to an offender who both poses a low risk or recidivism and a low threat to public safety.

Tier-2 offenders pose a moderate risk and, if their victim is less than 18-years-old, law enforcement will notify all places in the area like movie theaters and day care centers - where the offender could come into contact with children.

Tier-3 is a high risk offender and that tier-3 status triggers a community notification.

"We knock on doors and advise people that we're not here to cause any fear in the community," says Detective Adam Wygnanski of the Reno Police Department. "We're just here to let them know that there's a high-risk sex offender that's living in their neighborhood."

One of those neighborhoods that got that knock on the door was North Reno's Northgate Village. That's the home of Larry Smith, one of six tier-3 sex offenders living in Washoe County.

"We were shocked. Larry is a model resident," says Northgate Village Co-Manager Marilyn Lehr. "We've never had any problems with him at all - wish we had more like him."

Said her husband Bill" "There was outrage. People threatened to move out. There were going to buy pit bulls, shotguns and we were waiting
for somebody to say let's lynch him."

But that never happened.

The Lehr's say one person did slash Larry's tires but other than that no one moved out and everyone eventually calmed down . . . calmed down because the sex offender unit met with the community and told them
what they could do to protect themselves.

"You want to sit down with your children - depending upon how old they - are and explain to them that there is a dangerous individual in the neighborhood and walk in pairs and make sure that to leave that open communication with their parents to let them know if something happens," Wygnanski says.

Now if you want to find out if there's a sex offender living in your neighborhood, you have a few options.

Tier-1 offenders are only listed in the law enforcement database so you would need to call the Washoe County Sex Offender unit and give them as much information as you can about the person and they can then look it up.

All tier-2 offenders are listed in paper form, by last name at all area public and private schools.

Tier-3 offenders can be found at the city of reno website and soon, tier-2 offenders will be listed on the website as well.

The Washoe County Sex Offender unit also has an informational booklet called sex offenders among us that teaches you how to keep your family safe.


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