There are about 518 registered sex offenders living in Amarillo. Those individuals are responsible for registering themselves for the Texas Public Sex Offender Registry list online and according to officials with the Amarillo Police Department, most of them comply with the registration guidelines.
"The person is required to report to the police department within seven days of the date that they're released from prison," said Lt. Martin Birkenfeld with APD's Detective Division. "Once they report here, then we verify their address, we verify that they've obtained proper identification and at that point we turn in the registration paperwork to the state and at that point they're registered."
The basis of the list, Lt. Birkenfeld said, is to keep the public and law enforcement informed on where these sexual offenders are so the public feels more comfortable and so officials have a good starting point if there are any other similar crimes committed in the future.
Although the majority of the offenders comply with those guidelines, Lt. Birkenfeld said, there are the few that fail to register on time.
"If a person hasn't reported within the seven day time period that they're required to report, then we're going to start an investigation, figure out where they are" said Birkenfeld. "If they haven't complied with the registration requirements, we're going to initiate a criminal investigation and get a warrant for their arrest."
That very idea, offenders not registering themselves, is one that frightens one Amarillo grandfather, Danny Miller. Even while playing with his two granddaughters at the playground on Thursday, he still said he worries.
"The list is only as good as the people that sign up for it," he said. "In this area there are a lot of people passing through and you don't know what their records are, you don't know what they do and it's kind of hard to keep track of everybody."
Every sexual offenders case is different. Some more serious, restricting that individual to the list for life while other offenses may only require a person to register as a sex offender for ten years. That's why officials said it's a case by case situation.
"There are people who live in your neighborhood who have committed burglaries, there are people who have committed assaults," said Lt. Birkenfeld. "So, if we used that logic, we could say you're at a higher risk if a burglar lives next door of your home being burglarized," he added. "There's a whole lot more to it, there are a lot of social factors and personal factors and you really have to look at each individual person."
"There could be a possibility that a minor something is on there that they're maybe being punished to harsh for," added Miller. "But, there are people on there that deserve...shouldn't even be out on the streets."
That's why Miller believes even such a negative list, like the Registry for Sex Offenders, has more pros than cons and parents should take note of who's on it.
'Parents, grandparents, anybody that's worried about their kids should be aware of it and get more information as they can online," said Miller.
"People shouldn't be afraid," added Lt. Birkenfeld. "Just be aware of what's going on in your neighborhood."