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Sheriffs Conduct Statewide Sex Offender Sweep

Sheriffs Conduct Statewide Sex Offender Sweep

Over 200 sex offenders were arrested over the last week of October, as the Georgia Sheriffs’Association conducted a statewide sweep of sex offender checks dubbed, Operation Watchful Eye.

A total of 221 registered sex offenders were arrested across Georgia from October 26-31 for various violations of state registration laws. The operation was the first official duty of Steve Wilson, new President of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association. Sheriff Wilson, current Sheriff of Walker County, proposed a coordinated effort involving all sheriff’s offices across the state to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a short time frame. Operation Watchful Eye was later born out of this proposal.

Sheriff’s Offices across the state are mandated by law to register sex offenders, and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school. Throughout the year each sheriff’s office verifies addresses provided by registered sex offenders. While conducting residence verifications, deputies also check for compliance with additional registration requirements which may result in arrests. Prior to this initiative, there has not been a coordinated effort encompassing the resources of all Sheriffs Conduct Statewide Sex Offender Sweep

sheriffs’ offices in order to illustrate to the public and offenders that this critical mission is being accomplished.

“We hope this statewide initiative created awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network, and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters, in order to make our state safer and showcase the excellent work of our sheriff’s offices,” stated Sheriff Wilson.

Preliminary reporting by 86 sheriffs reveals a total of 11,982 registered sex offenders, 224 predators, and 145 homeless sex offenders currently living in their counties. Throughout the six-day operation, 8,045 residence verifications were conducted and 153 new warrants were issued for violations of the sex offender registry law. Thirty-nine counties reported that 68 sex offenders moved into their county during the week.

Other agencies such as the Georgia Department of Community Supervision (DCS) and U.S. Marshals volunteered to assist counties in this initiative. The DCS reported 3,994 compliance checks were conducted on registered sex offenders who are under probation or parole supervision. In numerous counties deputies and probation/ parole officers worked together to verify sex offenders are in compliance with the law. During the checks, DSC reported 28 firearms seized, 27 other weapons seized, 31 cases of illegal drugs found, 36 sexually explicit items confiscated, and over 800 sexually related images located.

Locally, 231 registered sex offenders live in Troup County, five of which are specifically deemed as predators.

During the sweep, Troup County Deputies checked on all 231 offenders, six of which they were unable to locate. A total of 10 warrants were issued for residence violations, with three warrants served.

Additionally, three subjects were newly registered as sex offenders during the week.

The Troup County portion of this operation was coordinated by Lieutenant Kelli Ellington of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office and was conducted on October 26- 27.

Troup County residents can protect their family from sexual predators by checking for nearby sex offenders at the Troup County Sheriff’s Office website at http://www.troupcountysheriff. org or the state website at http://gbi.georgia. gov/georgia-sex-offenderregistry.

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