Public safety main focus of meeting

Local News

Nearly 50 people attending a sex offender community notification meeting held Oct. 22 in Winnebago were reassured that the public’s safety is of the utmost importance.

“Where they spend their waking hours is where we want to have our attention most focused, not where their heads hit the pillow at night,” says Brad VanderVegt, community notification coordinator with the state’s Department of Corrections.

James Nicholas Dahlager, 38, was released from a state prison on Oct. 15 and transported to Winnebago by two Intensive Supervised Release (ISR) program agents to his new residence on the 500 block of South Main Street.

VanderVegt says as of July 1, 2019, there are 18,000 people required to register as an offender in the state, with 54 of those registrants living in Faribault County.

While there are 15 registrants with a Winnebago address, Police Chief Eric Olson says eight are actually living within the city limits.

“What the chief said, that should be the most reassuring thing your hear tonight,” says VanderVegt. “Your law enforcement officers and other professionals know who these folks are, where they are and where they should be.”

Dahlager will be the third Level 3 sex offender to move to Winnebago, bringing the total of Level 3 registrants in the county to five.

“We’re watching them. We know what they are doing and have all eyes on them.” says Olson.

In 2000, Dahlager was convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 12-year-old girl in Brown County and sent to prison.

VanderVegt says Dahlager also had a juvenile offense when he was 13 and sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl.

“He exploited access to the victim while attending a religious service,” he says. “He was in a church and she was comfortable enough with him to follow him into a bathroom.”

Eric Starke and Kristen Isaksson, ISR agents for Dahlager, answered questions citizens may have had about the supervision process.

Starke says Level 3 registrants are required to be on GPS monitoring for at least 60 days but it could be longer if deemed necessary.

“We will not allow him to be near a school,” says Isaksson. “If you know of a daycare, let us know.”

Olson says that schools and daycare providers are always notified when a sex offender moves into the city.

Starke and Isaksson say that Dahlager isn’t allowed to freely walk around town and that all his movements are pre-approved.

“We had about three hours to explain his conditions and rules. The do’s and don’ts of what he can and can’t do,” says Starke.

Although Dahlager does not have a job, VanderVegt says he will be expected to find work and not just sit on the couch watching cartoons and TV shows.

Dahlager’s criminal history includes convictions of aggravated first-degree robbery in LeSueur and Lyon counties, which was a concern to some at the meeting.

“With the resources we have, I don’t believe he will have a chance to commit robbery,” says Olson.

Anyone with questions or wanting more information may contact the Police Department by calling (507) 893-3218.

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