STOP SEX OFFENDERS | TX: Fort Worth to resume running photos of sex offenders in newspaper
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Fort Worth to resume running photos of sex offenders in newspaper

January 16, 2001

FORT WORTH -- Photographs of convicted sex offenders are again being published in the Star-Telegram.

The Fort Worth Police Department decided to start running the photographs again this month, after determining that the public favored the move, Police Chief Ralph Mendoza said Tuesday.

"We weren't aware that the public wanted it," Mendoza said. "I compare it to running a business -- you try something, see its effect, and if it doesn't work, try something else."

A few photos have appeared in the newspaper, but Police Department officials said the ads will run regularly every Saturday, beginning Jan. 27.

The department stopped running the photographs in August, opting for a less costly text-only ad.

The decision became an issue in late December at City Hall when Councilwoman Becky Haskin asked why the photographs were no longer being published.

Police officials said the state does not require them to run the photographs because they are available on the Internet at the Texas Department of Public Safety's Web site,

But Haskin said she was pleased that the photographs were being published again.

"We got lots of calls from people and their point was, 'How can we be expected to know what that person looks like from just a description? We've got to have a picture,'" she said.

Police officials said there is enough money in the budget to run the ads through Sept. 30, the end of this fiscal year. The Star-Telegram did not lower its advertising rates to accommodate the department, company officials said.

The Police Department, which has allocated about $80,000 this year for the sex offender notices, said its advertising costs began doubling in September 1999 when a state law governing the ads took effect.

The law requires the city to disclose offenders' risk factors, such as the likelihood that they will engage in criminal sexual conduct, as well as name, age, offense, new address and other standard information.

Source: Star-Telegram Local News, by Ginger D. Richardson