Residents raise questions about sex offenders in neighborhood - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Residents raise questions about sex offenders in neighborhood

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RICHLAND, Wash. -- If a registered sex offender lived in your neighborhood, how would you know?

Sarah Arendell often takes her four year old daughter to Richland's Jefferson Park. But when she was told  a sex offender lives nearby, she was obviously concerned, "It makes you very uncomfortable, it also makes you feel a little bit helpless."

Arendell knows predators exist, and one way she tries to get the upper hand is through technology.

"We get the emails from the sheriff's department every so often notifying us that a sex offender has moved into the area and it's helpful but obviously discomforting," says Arendell.

Discomforting is how many of you felt after hearing about Sarah Babcock.  The transgendered offender was convicted on 13 counts of indecent liberties with juveniles back in the 90's. Now Babcock lives on the 1300 block of Haines Avenue, near a park and a school.

"There's still offenders out there that are living close to schools that are off probation and off doc restrictions. Once they're off restrictions, they can live where they want to live," explains Detective Mike Wilson of the Benton County Sheriff's Office.

Since 2006. sex offenders are required to be 880 feet away from schools, parks, and libraries. But since Babcock's crimes occurred before 2006, she can't go on these properties, but can live across the street.

"It's sad because I grew up in this town. And we used to walk wherever we wanted to walk," says Richland resident Nancy Shoemake.

A meeting to discuss Babcock and other sex offenders was held at the Richland Police Department Thursday night. Members from Richland Police, Department of Corrections, and SARC were there to answer questions.

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