Department of Corrections Ofc. Kris Rongen, who with the King County Gang Unit, and his supervisor Leslie Mills, is being honored for the work their team does tracking down dangerous fugitives and sex offenders every week.
The D.O.C's Northwest Community Response Unit has cleared more than 300 warrants since May, but Ofc. Rongen and his neighborhood corrections initiative, or N.C.I. team, are also working to prevent crime before it happens. Just last weekend, they arrested a convicted pedophile who had quite possibly picked out his next victim.
It was last Friday night when D.O.C Field Supervisor Leslie Mills got a call about level 3 sex offender Robert Herron in Shoreline. "A state trooper who was a family friend of this family contacted the warrants desk because he was familiar with D.O.C. and said, 'listen, we have this guy who we believe has possible assaulted or will assault my girlfriend's sister who is mildly mentally retarded." Mills was told Herron took out the 26 year old woman who'd never been on a date, then pressed her for details about whether she was a virgin. Her family found out, and then discovered Herron is a convicted pedophile. So, Mills sent Ofc. Rongen and his team to talk to him. "Looked at some of his items in the house including his cell phone. One of my partners found a picture on that phone. On the phone was a pornographic picture. from there it kind of just snowballed."
Ofc. Rongen says Herron was sending pornographic photos to his roomate, Wayne Christopherson, another sex offender. Even more disturbing were the messages they were trading. "They were texting back and forth, talking about opening a day care center, hiring the other one for the janitor. Both of these guys, their crimes are against minors so there's some real concern on that."
And, officers believe Herron was targeting the young woman in Shoreline as his next victim. "I believe he's very manipulative. He acted like he didn't have any idea the girl was mentally handicapped. He told us one of the pornographic pictures on his phone was an Orangutan or a monkey. He was very manipulative and knew exactly what he was doing."
Ofc. Rongen and his team arrested both Herron and Christopherson on D.O.C. violations, earning praise from the woman's relieved family and from their supervisor. "This group of guys, they're special to my heart because they do amazing violent gang task force stuff, which is very imminent, very dangerous, very on the spot, very SWAT like all the time, moving, moving, moving, moving."