Milwaukee County residents "outraged" over placement of sex offenders without warning

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- Residents want a say after sex offenders were slipped into a Milwaukee neighborhood. Community members are up in arms about the policies that allowed it to happen, but the board that put them there is unapologetic for its actions.

On Friday morning, January 29th, Hector Colon, Milwaukee County's Health and Human Services director, was grilled about transparency and accountability.

"There is outrage," said Chantia Lewis, resident.

The outrage is over a house near 3rd and Uncas. It's a home for the mentally ill. But now, two registered sex offenders are being allowed to live there too.

"All laws were followed -- state, federal and local laws," said Colon.

Hector Colon

Colon defended all residents living in the home.

"We transitioned them into the community -- person-centered approaches with comprehensive plans to ensure their safety but also the safety of the community," said Colon.

But Dennis Hughes, staff representative for AFSCME Council 32, says that's not the case.

“Our employees are telling us that the sex offenders that are being placed, when they were in the long-term care facility, were openly talking about the fact that they intended to assault children. Specifically, a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old boy," said Hughes.

Dennis Hughes

Residents also feel they've been kept in the dark about who is moving in.

"The concern here is we don't know where these mentally ill people have been placed in the community. There are group homes throughout Milwaukee County and we don't know where they are or who is housed in them," said Hughes. 

"If we have sex offenders that are entering our neighborhood without our knowledge, the threat for our children has increased tremendously," said Lewis.

Residents and some supervisors want public hearings to learn more about these placements. But Colon says that's not happening.

"We will not hold a public hearing ever to let the community know we are transitioning clients into their neighborhood. That's not what we do. It's a violation of HIPAA and privacy laws," said Colon.

Several requests continue to be made for the mental health board to hold a public hearing on the issue -- meanwhile the county board will revisit it in March.