By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Sexual predators eyeing young children no longer need a crowbar and a window to get into a child’s room. All they need is a computer.
Organizers of the Ensuring Children’s Online Protection held a seminar for Portales residents in the Pecos Room on the Eastern New Mexico University campus on Thursday to warn them of sexual predators.
Matt Chandler, Ninth Judicial District Attorney, conducted the seminar with Ray Sullivan, publisher for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico, which consists of the Clovis News Journal, Portales News-Tribune and Quay County Sun.
Sullivan said he discussed the idea with Chandler in advance to help parents understand the problems their children are facing on the Internet.
“I enjoyed it,” Ron Blevins said. “It was a good investment of my time. People who didn’t attend missed a great opportunity.”
Blevins attended the seminar with his wife Melissa Blevins. He said they have grandchildren and they are concerned for their safety.
Chandler said there are 15 sex offenders in Roosevelt County and he said Roosevelt County Sheriff Tom Gossett does a good job of keeping of monitoring them.
Chandler said there are 67 sexual predators in Curry County. He said recently law enforcement officials went on searches to find the sexual offenders and 61 of 67 were accounted for. Chandler said another five were either later arrested or accounted for and there is a warrant out for the arrest of the only person not accounted for.
Chandler said because of new legislation sex offenders will need to register every 90 days starting July 1. Currently, sex offenders are only required to register at least once annually.
According to Chandler, people who want to know who the identities of county sex offenders can go to the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department for mug shots.
Ron Blevins said he was going to purchase software offered through the seminar that would monitor what Web sites the children have been on.
“It’s scary from a standpoint that it’s so open,” he said of the Internet. “I’m comfortable with the technology. I wouldn’t know how to find these sites because I don’t look for them.”
Ron Blevins said he learned hints and things to look for when looking at what his grandchildren are viewing.
“In the old days, we just had to look out for Hustler magazines,” Melissa Blevins said. “There are so many things available to kids now and their parents aren’t always home to monitor them.”
Chandler said if people or groups who want any more information can request the seminar by calling the district attorney’s office at 769-2246. Chandler said the goal is to take the seminars to civic groups or schools.