A newly formed Pennsylvania State Police unit working to keep tabs on sex offenders is expected to soon come to Western Pennsylvania.
The Megan's Law Compliance Unit consists of two troopers who work with local agencies to arrest sex offenders who have failed to register their addresses or online accounts or otherwise have violated the terms of their release.
Before the unit was created, state police sent notices to local police departments urging them to follow up on people in their area who had failed to register.
Now, state police Lt. Todd Harman said, troopers in the unit coordinate arrests with local agencies and sometimes join them.
"There were not as many checks and balances on these offenders as I had hoped," Lt. Harman said.
"We did not have an entity dedicated solely to doing compliance checks of these offenders."
Now, "we're actually going to the home of the individuals, to their work places and the places they're reporting going to school. ... That didn't happen previously unless a police department took their own initiatives," the lieutenant said.
The unit was formed about six months ago, after state police received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, about $55,000 of which was set aside for work on compliance checks, according to state police spokeswoman Maria Finn.
Troopers in the unit made their round of checks late last month, focusing on 92 homes and workplaces in Juniata and Mifflin counties. Those checks resulted in two arrests.
Bryan Scott Wyland, 44, of East Waterford, Juniata County, was charged with failing to report an email address and Facebook account, state police said. He was placed on the sex offender list after he was convicted of indecent assault in 2004.
Paul Kirchoff, 27, of Lewistown, Mifflin County, was arrested after police said he failed to report a change of address. He was convicted of indecent assault in 2012.
"We will be in all parts of the state," Lt. Harman said. "Next week, we could do something in northeastern Pennsylvania."
The lieutenant declined to say exactly when the unit will begin working in Western Pennsylvania, saying he did not want to jeopardize any investigations.
"The message is that if you're a sex offender in Pennsylvania, you need to ensure that all of your requirements under the law will be met, because we're going to be checking in on you," he said.
Liz Navratil: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.