[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Special Report: Unprotected Prey

Updated: Friday, November 22, 2013 |
Special Report: Unprotected Prey story image
PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Does your child's bus stop put them in the path of a predator?

Right now, there are state laws regulating how close sex offenders can live near schools, but there are no laws regulating how close they can be to school bus stops.

Newschannel 3 did some digging to see how many offenders were living in reach of our local children and how school districts are keeping them safe.

We decided to focus just on the City of Portage, mapping where all the registered sex offenders live, and comparing it to school bus routes.

While there are offenders living close to bus stops all over the city, there was one area that jumped  out at us.

A motel that has nearly a dozen sex offenders living there, just steps away from two school bus stops.

Along Helen Avenue in Portage, there's family homes, kids toys, parents seeing their kids off to school.

But Amanda Penn says there's a big reason she makes sure her son gets on the school bus safely every day.

In this neighborhood, bound by Portage Road, Lovers Lane, and I-94, there are 13 people listed as sex offenders on the state police registry.

Ten of them call the Airport Inn home.

According to the registry website, 7 of them were convicted of having sexual contact with a child under 13 years old.

The others: attempted CSC of a child, indecent exposure, and third degree CSC.

Directly in front of the motel is a bus stop for middle and high school students, and right around the corner—only about 50 yards away—the elementary school kids get picked up.

That's a fact scares some parents.

"Every morning, every time he gets off the bus to come home. He's right here. I'm always afraid of something happening," Penn said.

Other neighbors are all too aware of the sex offenders at the  motel.


"We're aware, children don't play outside unsupervised," said parent Christine Vlietstra.

Many of them wonder why so many sex offenders call this place home?
 
Officer Paul Sherfield registers sex offenders for Portage Police. He says the state is placing them there.

"As they get out of jail and have to move into someplace and you got to get them to start there and the parole officers keep real close tabs on them," Sherfield said.

Officer Sherfield says the Department of Corrections has a deal worked out with the motel.

And the offenders stay there for a couple months, but some have stayed for years.

"I've had as many as 20 some in there," Sherfield said. "Depends on how many they're releasing and how many they get out."

We took our findings to Ron Herron, the Portage Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of Operations. He says the district knows about the motel and other clusters where sex offenders are living.

"We get alerts when sex offenders move into the district, by zip code and we were able to plot those within our transportation routing system," Herron said. "We plot those and then we determine where we have our routing stops at to keep kids safe."

Herron says there's only a bus stop at the front of the motel when there are students living there.

No other kids are expected to use that stop.

For other bus stops near sex offenders, they rely on bus drivers and parents keeping a close watch.

"The safest way to keep a kid safe is to have parent supervision at all times," Herron said. "We know that's not possible at all times with certain parents, if they work together…they can make sure their students are safe."

"We can't tell people where to live, or where to move," Herron added. "And sex offenders move in and out and that's one of the reasons we continue to monitor that situation."

Officer Sherfield says police and parole officers keep an eye on the offenders. Many of them have an electronic tether, and are not allowed to leave their room at certain times.

"They're under scrutiny. And if something were to happen, they're right in front of that location," he said. "Everyone immediately is going to be looking at them."

But most parents say, it's unfortunate this has to be in their backyard.

"I have no choice," Penn said. "I live around here."

Florida and Georgia are the only states that have laws preventing sex offenders from living close to bus stops.

Portage schools says it doesn't notify parents about sex offenders, but if there's an issue they encourage parents to contact them.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on August 20, 2014 07:30 GMT

JAPAN-TRADE

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's trade deficit rose in July from the month before to a wider than expected 964 billion yen ($9.4 billion), though exports were higher for the first time in three months.

It was the 25th straight monthly trade deficit for the world's third-largest economy, due mainly to an increase in imports of oil and gas to compensate for idled nuclear reactors following meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

Exports rose 3.9 percent from a year earlier to 6.19 trillion yen ($60.2 billion), slightly outpacing a 2.3 percent increase in imports, to 7.15 trillion yen ($69.5 billion). Japan recorded an 822 billion yen deficit in June.

Japan's demand for imports has moderated in recent months as business slowed following an increase in the national sales tax. But a recovery in overseas demand, especially for machinery, buses and trucks, is a welcome relief.

CHINA-MONOPOLY CRACKDOWN-AUTOS

BEIJING (AP) -- China announced today it will fine 12 Japanese auto parts suppliers a total of $202 million for colluding to raise prices in an unfolding anti-monopoly probe of the country's auto industry.

Beijing has launched a series of investigations of global automakers and technology suppliers under its 6-year-old anti-monopoly law in an apparent effort to force down prices. Officials said earlier that Mercedes Benz, Audi and Chrysler also violated the law.

The Japanese suppliers were found to have colluded improperly, some for up to 10 years, to raise prices of ball bearings and other parts, according to China's main planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission.

Regulators have given few details of their probe but industry analysts say they might have been motivated by complaints about the high price of imported luxury vehicles and replacement parts.

Business groups say China's anti-monopoly law is enforced more actively against foreign companies than against local rivals.

DEPARTMENT STORE-DISCRIMINATION

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- The retailer Macy's has agreed to pay $650,000 to settle allegations of racial profiling at its flagship store in Manhattan's Herald Square.

Under the agreement signed with New York's attorney general, the company will adopt new policies on police access to its security camera monitors and against profiling, further train employees, investigate customer complaints, keep better records of detentions and report for three years on its compliance.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the settlement should help ensure customers are treated equally regardless of race or ethnicity at the retail giant's 42 department stores statewide.

The attorney general's Civil Rights Bureau said it opened an investigation into Macy's in February 2013 when it received several complaints from minority customers. Since then, the office recorded complaints from 18 African-American, Latino and other ethnic minority customers who claimed they'd been apprehended and detained at Macy's stores between 2007 and 2013, despite not having stolen or attempted to steal any merchandise.

BLOOMBERG-CITIES-INNOVATION

NEW YORK (AP) -- American cities looking to be more innovative in how they address local issues can now get a helping hand from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's charitable foundation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies is announcing today that it's putting $45 million into Innovation Delivery grants. The grants are to help cities create teams that use data and other tools to come up with ideas for how to tackle problems.

The team approach that the foundation is championing "is one way mayors can increase the likelihood of generating more powerful ideas more often and reducing the risk of failure," he said.

The foundation initially rolled out the Innovation Delivery model in five cities -- Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; and New Orleans -- which used the process to come up with ideas on a range of issues, from economic redevelopment to reducing violent deaths.

THE DAY AHEAD

Business Events Scheduled for Today

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its July interest rate meeting today. Lowe's reports quarterly financial results before the market opens. Target Corp. reports quarterly financial results before the market opens.

MORTGAGES-LATE PAYMENTS

UNDATED (AP) -- Fewer U.S. homeowners are falling behind on their mortgage payments, a trend that's brought down the late-payment rate on home loans to the lowest level in six years.

Credit reporting agency TransUnion said Wednesday that the percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell to 3.46 percent in the second quarter.

That's down from 4.32 percent in the April-June period last year.

All told, the nation's late-payment rate on home loans is down nearly 20 percent from a year ago.

The last time the rate was lower was in the first quarter of 2008, when it stood at 3.39 percent.

The mortgage delinquency rate has been steadily easing over the past two years as U.S. home sales and prices have rebounded and foreclosures have declined.

PRIVATE PRISON-BACK WAGES

CALIFORNIA CITY, Calif. (AP) -- The nation's largest private prison company has paid more than $8 million in back wages and benefits to current and former employees at its federal prison facility in California City.

The U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday that Corrections Corp. of America paid the money to staff at the California City Correctional Center after an investigation found it wasn't paying the rates required of federal contractors.

A department official says in some cases employees were paid 40 percent less than required by pay rate regulations established for contractors. The company also wasn't making required contributions to retirement accounts and health and life insurance.

Many workers will receive more than $30,000.

Messages left with the Nashville, Tennessee-based company spokesmen weren't immediately returned.

NO-FLY LIST

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is promising to change the way travelers can ask to be removed from its no-fly list of suspected terrorists banned from air travel.

The decision comes after a federal judge's ruling that there was no meaningful way to challenge the designation, a situation deemed unconstitutional. In response, the Justice Department said the U.S. will change the process during the next six months. As of late last summer, about 48,000 people were on the no-fly list.

The government's policy is never to confirm or deny that a person actually is on the no-fly list, citing national security concerns. In most instances, travelers assume they are on the list because they are instructed to go through additional screening at airports or because they are told they can't board their flights to, from or within the United States.

The no-fly list is one of the government's most controversial post-9/11 counterterrorism programs because of its lack of due process, long criticized because people cannot know why they were placed on the list and lack an effective way to fight the decision. Changing how people can challenge their designation could amount to one of the government's most significant adjustments to how it manages the list.

PETSMART-SALE

UNDATED (AP) -- PetSmart says it is considering putting itself up for sale after receiving pressure from investors.

The pet supply chain said Tuesday that it will weigh "strategic alternatives" after a board review that included conversations with shareholders.

Investment firm Longview Asset Management and hedge fund Jana Partners have both pushed PetSmart to think about a sale.

The company also says it plans to cut costs and is focusing on pet food, exclusive brands and services, online shoppers and a loyalty program.

The Phoenix-based company in May cut its earnings outlook for the year, citing a challenging consumer environment and competition.

PetSmart said Tuesday that its second-quarter earnings rose 5.1 percent to $98.1 million, or 98 cents per share, while revenue rose 1.4 percent to $1.73 billion. It left its guidance unchanged.

OBAMA ADVISER-UBER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's former campaign manager and White House senior adviser David Plouffe (pluhf) is joining car service startup Uber as it seeks to expand in cities worldwide.

Plouffe will serve as Uber's senior vice president of policy and strategy.

Uber uses a mobile application to connect riders with vehicles for hire. The San Francisco-based company has faced resistance in some U.S. cities from the taxi industry and regulators who have accused it of lowering prices to knock out competition.

Plouffe was the architect of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and a top White House adviser as the president sought re-election.

Announcing Plouffe's hiring, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says the company "has been in a campaign but hasn't been running one. That is changing now."

advertisement