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Bad Neighbor Policy

Other Editors Say...

Call it cruel irony.

With all the political chest-thumping about alleged criminals and rapists pouring across the U.S. border from Mexico, a sex offender deported by Canadian officials quietly settled in Oregon in suburban Toledo– only to be charged with raping a child.

Kenneth Hall, 51, is locked up in the Lucas County jail after being charged and indicted by a county grand jury on two felony counts each of rape, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, and gross sexual imposition.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that Hall last year engaged in sexual conduct with a victim less than 10 years old.

Mike Navarre, Oregon police chief, is outraged, as all of us should be, but not just at the crime.

Here’s why: Oregon police detectives found in their investigation that Hall– an American citizen– was convicted in 1996 for a sexual offense involving a child in Calgary, served two years in a Canadian prison, and then was deported to the United States in 1998.

And nobody warned them.

If Hall had been convicted in this country his name would be on a sex-offender registry. That might have prevented him from allegedly committing another sexual offense with a child.

But because of Canada’s very aggressive privacy laws, Hall’s past criminal conviction was not shared with law enforcement officers in this country.

That is insane.

Children were not protected when they might have been because of privacy?

Surely this is a false choice.

According to a story in last Sunday’s Blade by police reporter Ryan Dunn, Canadian law enforcement maintains a database listing criminal sex offenders, but that database is not made public in Canada and, this is even crazier, it cannot be accessed by law enforcement outside of Canada.

What?

Canada does not share the records they keep?

What’s the point of keeping them?

Daniel Brodsky, a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto and co-editor of a book published in Canada about legal issues involving sexual offenders, told The Blade that if sex offenders’ identities became widely available, residents would frequently encroach on their privacy.

Good grief. Perhaps that is so.

But can we not tell the police? Would giving the police a heads up really constitute “wide availability”?

Would it really encroach on civil liberties? What about public health and safety?

What about protecting the vulnerable?

Navarre is still shaking his head. He says Canadian officials should have informed his department that Hall had moved to Oregon, so law enforcement officers here could have placed him on the American sex-offender registry and kept an eye on him.

That’s just common sense, neighborliness, and good public safety policy.

“There’s really no easy solution to this, but doing nothing I don’t think is the right answer,” Navarre said.

Well and ultimately put.

We don’t need to build a wall between the United States and Canada to keep the bad guys out, but we do need the Canadian police to tell us when bad guys are coming our way so our police can do their jobs.–Toledo Blade



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