When Hartford police went to the Open Hearth Wednesday morning, they got permission to confirm the whereabouts of 17 registered sex offenders who listed the emergency shelter as their residence. But a half-block away at the Stewart B. McKinney Shelter, officers were denied entry in their attempt to locate 43 registered sex offenders who listed that facility as their home. The officers resorted to waiting on the sidewalk to interview people as they came and went, reports the Hartford Courant. City police say they need more power to enforce the law requiring sex offenders to maintain up-to-date residency registration and to make contact with offenders living in shelters.
But advocates for the homeless say it is an invasion of their clients’ right to privacy. “It’s the Constitution of the United States,” Carol Walter, executive director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, said Friday. Police say increased access to shelters might help avert another tragedy like the one that unfolded in New Britain last weekend, when a registered sex offender who listed a shelter as his address broke into a home and shot two women, killing one of them, according to authorities. According to police, there are 56 registered sex offenders listed as living in the city’s 10 shelters.