A controversial bill designed to allow some convicted sex offenders to one day remove their names from the state sex-offender registry is making its way through the state Assembly.
The bill passed in the state Senate largely due to strong support by law enforcement. But that may be changing. San Jose's high-powered police officers association will soon take a public stance on the bill, which the union president says puts the community at risk and doesn't help victims.
There are reportedly around 100,000 registered sex offenders on the state's online registry. Supporters of Senate Bill 421 want a tier system listing violent sex predators on the site for the rest of their lives; those who commit less serious crimes would be dropped after 10 years; and misdemeanor or nonviolent offenders would stop registering after 10 years.
POA President Paul Kelly says the categories are too broad and is not convinced so-called low-level sex offenders should be allowed off the list.
"You talk about someone who is convicted of child pornography in 10 years coming off the list," Kelly said. "You talk about an adult who has sex with a minor, or rape, is taken off the list in 10-20 years. It's a major problem."
State Sen. Scott Weiner, who authored the bill, expressed disappointment. In a statement, Weiner told NBC Bay Area the current system burdens law enforcement with unnecessary work, tracking and monitoring low-level offenders with little or no risk of repeat offense, and the state "needs a system focusing on high-risk and violent offenders."
Kelly says the more people listed, with more information, the better.
"Whether it's him or her as a sex registrant, narco registrant, had been involved with gangs, whatever it is, it allows us to handle investigations on the street more efficiently," Kelly said. "And less people are hurt. It's that simple."
The POA board is expected to take a vote on its public stance early Tuesday morning and could become one of the first major law enforcement groups to reject the bill that was designed to help law enforcement.