SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Law enforcement does periodic compliance checks on the more than 18,000 registered sex offenders in Missouri. These offenders are required to register every three months or twice a year, depending on their conviction.
They must provide information to law enforcement about their place of residence and work, registered vehicles, internet and phone use and a list of other things. If they don’t comply, they can be ticketed or sent back to jail.
Randolph County Sheriff Mark Nichols says one of the most common ways sex offenders fail to comply is by not living where they say there are living.
“If that is the case, then automatically we fill out a probable cause statement and submit it to the prosecutor for prosecution,” said Nichols.
Sex offenders are restricted from living 1,000 feet from a daycare or school.
Cpl. Cathy Ussery with the Green County Sheriff’s Department says law enforcement there depends on the public’s help in making sure the county’s 700 sex offenders live where they say they are.
“They are the ones who alert us when they believe an offender is either living in their community and that hasn’t registered or that one has moved from their community that they know of,” said Ussery.
Halloween is one of the most common days of the year that law enforcement focuses on compliance checks on sex offenders. With so many children on the streets and some being without adult supervision, law enforcement wants to ensure that trick-or-treaters are safe.
There are more sex offenders in Jackson County than any other county in Missouri. Sgt. John Payne says the 2,200 sex offenders in his county must strictly follow the conditions set for them in state law. There were 87 arrests and 224 tickets issued during a recent compliance sting in Jackson County.
“We have the most (sex offenders) in the state of Missouri and we can pretty much set the tone on whether or not if the state is compliant if we can get Jackson County sex offenders compliant,” said Payne. “Usually that’s enough to get the entire state compliant.”
Jackson County’s county-wide operation was led by the U.S. Marshal’s office. There were 17 agencies and 130 officers involved in the sweep that lasted five days.
Payne can only speculate, but says the reason why Jackson County could have the most sex offenders is because there are two homeless shelters there that allow those individuals. Many shelters don’t, which makes Jackson County a hot spot for sex offenders needing a place to crash.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol maintains the sex offender registry. To search for sex offenders living in your area, go to: https://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/CJ38/search.jsp.