Supervising Sex Offenders

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[Audio Begins]

Leonard Sipes: Hi, and welcome to the radio version of D.C. Public Safety. I am your host, Len Sipes. At our microphones this morning is Robert Sniadowski. Robert is with the Sex Offender Unit. He is a community supervision officer and Robert, welcome to D.C. Public Safety.

Robert Sniadowski: Thank you, good morning.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Now you have an interesting background, you did what in another state before coming into the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency?

Robert Sniadowski: I worked probation and parole in a home unit basically tracking offenders electronically.

Leonard Sipes: Right. And what made you come to Court Services and Offender Supervision? Now this was another state that you did this, correct?

Robert Sniadowski: That’s correct.

Leonard Sipes: Okay.

Robert Sniadowski: I just did some research on the agency and I heard a lot of good things and just thought it would be a good step for my career.

Leonard Sipes: I think we have one of the better Sex Offender Units in the country.

Robert Sniadowski: Definitely. I was very impressed when I got here to see all the tools that CSOSA had to offer the employees.

Leonard Sipes: Right. And quite frankly, I mean, my experience in terms of working for a Department of Justice funded agency, that we made our jobs of knowing what was going on throughout the country-we are probably better equipped, better staffed, if you will, in terms of what we do within the District of Columbia than just about any other state in the country.

Robert Sniadowski: It’s amazing. I really got a chance to use some of these tools, especially GPS monitoring when I got here. GPS has done a lot for the Sex Offender Unit-in a lot of different cases-it’s helped us out. We’ve placed individuals at crimes at a certain time that something’s happened. We’ve realized that that person was there using the GPS monitoring. We’ve found people with no-contact conditions with certain people-we’ve found them to be in contact with those victims. So it’s really given us a strong way to supervise these offenders and find out what they’re actually doing out in the community.

Leonard Sipes: Now we should explain; what is GPS? It’s Global Positioning System?

Robert Sniadowski: Correct. Global Positioning-

Leonard Sipes: Or satellite tracking?

Robert Sniadowski: Right. We can actually monitor exactly where they are almost real-time within a few minutes. We can update every few minutes as to where they are. We can tell where they are, how long they’ve been there, and we can zoom in and actually get a photograph of the area that they’re at.

Leonard Sipes: We can match their movements via satellite and impose that-not impose that, what word am I looking for? Superimpose that on a map of the area, right?

Robert Sniadowski: Correct. So we can see graphically whether or not, say a child sex offender is hanging out at a school or playground, a subway station where there are a lot of children.

Robert Sniadowski: We can set exclusion zones around schools or whatever area you might want the offender to stay away from, we can set an exclusion area, and we actually get an alert through the computer that they’ve been in that area. Or if we set a curfew for the person that they need to be off the street at a certain time at night, if they’re out past their curfew, we automatically will get an alert that that offender’s been out.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. Explain to me, Robert, about the Sex Offender Unit-it’s a low ratio of community supervision officers to offenders. What is it, 25 to one, 30 to one?

Robert Sniadowski: That’s just about correct.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And at the same time, we have an array of different things that we do and we have in terms of supervision, and we have an array of things we do in terms of counseling to help that person come to grips with their history of sex offending, correct?

Robert Sniadowski: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: All right, tell me about the supervision side.

Robert Sniadowski: Well as soon as they’re placed under supervision, we refer them for sex offender treatment, which is very important, that’s what we’re there for. The reason we have the lower caseloads compared to a general supervision unit is that we’re dealing with much more high-risk individuals and they need to be supervised at a much more intense level.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Robert Sniadowski: We see them a lot more often in the office, the community, their jobs-so we’re definitely seeing a lot of them.

Leonard Sipes: Now the tools-we already talked about satellite tracking. You have the ability to go into their homes whenever you want to to take a look around-something called an accountability tour, where we tour with police officers, correct?

Robert Sniadowski: That is correct. Accountability tours with the Metropolitan Police Department has been a great asset to us. Recently one of the officers in our unit was supervising a male who lived with his girlfriend and another live-in person who rented a room. The officer went out-the person was to have no contact with minors.

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Robert Sniadowski: So the officer and MPD went out on the accountability tour. When they got to the home, there were minors present in the home.

Leonard Sipes: Wow. Okay.

Robert Sniadowski: So what was basically going on was this offender was hiding all of the children’s toys, clothing, et cetera before the officers would show up. When they did this random visit with police-

Leonard Sipes: Right.

Robert Sniadowski: They found out the guy had had his kids staying there the whole time.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s extraordinarily important in terms of our principle role, which is protecting public safety.

Robert Sniadowski: Absolutely.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. We also have lie detector tests. You can go and remotely, I find this very interesting, remotely view their computers to find out if they’ve been accessing sexual sites or child porn that needless to say is against the law and they can not have access to, correct?

Robert Sniadowski: Obviously yes, that is correct. And the polygraph testing, that’s another great tool that’s used in sex offender treatment. It often leads to the offender disclosing a lot more victims, a lot more activities that we were unaware of before they actually went through this.

Leonard Sipes: Now at the same time, we have investigators who can trail these individuals on a 24-hour basis if necessary, and we can provide some sort of device that measures his arousal level. And so that’s all-these are all tools both in terms of supervision and treatment?

Robert Sniadowski: That’s correct. With the PPG, that’s a tool used in sex offender treatment. It measures the offender’s arousal to certain age groups or genders of people. So they may have an offense against an adult female, but the PPG may show that they also have an attraction towards adolescent children also.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And they’re all in supervision by certified counselors?

Robert Sniadowski: Correct. We have three different treatment providers here in the District of Columbia.

Leonard Sipes: Okay. And any interesting stories that come out of all of this, or did you tell that story?

Robert Sniadowski: That was the one I was focusing on.

Leonard Sipes: And that’s a very interesting story because it shows the power of the cooperative relationship that we have with the Metropolitan Police Department.

Robert Sniadowski: That’s correct. The GPS-I guess a pretty good story-one of our offenders wasn’t allowed to have contact-anything, no pornographic materials et cetera. We were really having a hard time keeping track of this guy’s time; he was just being very deceptive about his whereabouts. With GPS-we noticed he kept going to a certain location in D.C.-a certain block area, so a couple officers and I went to this area and the offender was actually viewing pornographic materials-peepshows in a basement. We caught him with coins in his pocket to view these shows. So it tracked him right down to the exact building that he was in.

Leonard Sipes: The whole idea is accountability and public safety.

Robert Sniadowski: Correct.

Leonard Sipes: Robert, thanks for being at our microphones today.

Robert Sniadowski: Thank you very much.

[Audio Ends]

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