Angry residents flocked to a Monday night meeting in Manchester, Connecticut, to demand that convicted sex offenders be moved out of their neighborhood and away from their children.
The offenders moved into a group home on Clinton Street over the summer. Town officials said they were not notified, although the Department of Corrections isn’t required to let them know ahead of time.
Monday night more than 100 neighbors packed into the meeting room to face the DOC commissioner and implore him to take action.
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“Really, you sicken me. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing this. They don’t live in your neighborhood; they live in ours,” one resident jeered.
DOC Interim Commissioner Scott Semple tried to put things in perspective.
“If they’re not here, they’re going somewhere,” he explained.
But residents said their safety has been compromised, arguing that schools, parks and bus stops in the area provide too many potential victims.
“They don’t need to have a home in a neighborhood full of families, children, full of single woman,” one resident said.
“They need to be placed somewhere away from children. There’s a bus stop right there. Who’s protecting the children? Not you,” another added.
Even the mayor spoke up, urging the DOC to reconsider.
Semple attempted to quiet the crowd by explaining that the offenders are being closely monitored and statistically speaking are unlikely to commit a repeat offense, but it fell on deaf ears Monday night.
“Everybody is here to get them out. That’s all they want to know,” one resident said, and was met with applause.
Semple acknowledged the concern and said he would take it into consideration.
“At this juncture, I think it’s better to take the concerns back to our office and evaluate before we make any further decisions,” he said.
The DOC plans to sit down with town officials to debrief after tonight’s meeting and is considering a change in protocol for notifying communities in the future.