A sexually violent predator has moved to the Whitewater area, and the Mesa County Sheriff's Office wants residents to know more about him.
As required by law, the Mesa County Sheriff's Office held a public meeting Tuesday night to inform Whitewater residents that 43-year-old Kevin Garner, a convicted sex offender who was designated a sexually violent predator, has come to their area from Alaska.
Garner was named a sexually violent predator after being convicted in two separate cases in Alaska. In those incidents, he sexually assaulted four young girls, ranging in age from 6 to 12. Because he was made a sexually violent predator in Alaska, he automatically has to register as one in Colorado.
Tuesday night, dozens of Whitewater residents showed up at the Mesa County Fairgrounds to learn more about their new neighbor and find out what's being done to keep them safe.
Law enforcement officials say Garner is on parole and probation, and because he's a sexually violent predator, he is under very strict supervision. He has to wear a GPS device at all times, he is subject to random monthly visits to his home to make sure he's there and random searches of his home. He's not allowed to contact with any child under 18, he must register as a sex offender every 90 days, and he'll have to register for the rest of his life.
Even with all these safeguards in place, Whitewater residents say they are weary about Garner living in their community.
"We sure appreciate what the Sheriff's Department is doing, informing us about what's going on and keeping us posted," said Whitewater resident Dustin Bagett. "But how easy can you feel about somebody like that living next door to your kids."
Officials say by educating the public about sexually violent predators, they hope they can encourage residents to take ownership in keeping their community safe.
"The community can play a very important role in the success of somebody to keep from re-offending," said Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey. "That's one of the purposes of these meetings."
Deputies say since Garner has moved to the area, they have gone to his home and searched it twice. They say so far he is complying with all laws.
If you have any questions about sexually violent predators, you can call the Mesa County Sheriff's Office at 244-3500. You can also find information on sexually violent predators from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation by clicking on the link below.