Chandler police bungled notification case - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Chandler police bungled notification case

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Posted: Monday, June 23, 2008 10:29 pm | Updated: 10:18 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Enforcing sex offender registration laws requires good judgment and aggressive police work, both of which were missing when Chandler police incorrectly told Chad Tow’s neighbors in January that such a criminal was living in his house.

As Tribune writer Gary Grado reported last week, Tow was stunned to learn six months ago from a neighbor that police had sent out fliers claiming convicted sex offender Kurtis Hamady was staying at Tow’s house. Even worse, the flier’s photo of Hamady looks pretty similar to Tow, and a casual glance might cause someone to wrongly think Tow was the sex offender.

Tow had known Hamady for 15 years, but told Grado he specifically refused to let Hamady live with his family to avoid any unkind public scrutiny. Hamady gave Tow’s address to the police anyway, and in turn the police made a serious mistake — they believed Hamady without verification.

A couple of factors in Hamady’s case make it clear police should not have relied solely on his word. First, Hamady already had served 18 months in prison for failing to register with Arizona authorities after his original offense. Hamady had every reason to provide the police some address, even a false one that might hurt a friend, to give the appearance of registering properly.

Second, Hamady asked Chandler police not to send one of the neighborhood notification fliers to Tow’s house so as not to alarm his wife. (This fact didn’t appear in Grado’s story but is in a police report.) This request should have been a red flag that Hamady was being shady about something.

At that point, Chandler police should have found the time to speak directly with Tow about Hamady — before the police essentially hung a scarlet letter on Tow’s front door with the sex offender fliers.

Not surprisingly, Tow told Grado his neighbors have been shunning him ever since, even though the police sent out a second notice correcting the mistake a few weeks later and personally spoke with some neighbors.

Tow wants Chandler to pay him $200,000 for defamation. Our guess is that’s a bargain compared to what a jury might decide Tow’s predicament is worth.

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