By Brandon Jones
GUILFORD COUNTY - U.S. Marshals joined the Guilford County Sheriff's Department Saturday to knock on the doors of registered sex offenders to verify that they live where they've registered.
Operation Sex Offender Verification is at least a twice yearly spot-check on registered sex offenders.
"It makes them realize that this is important and it's not something they can just fluff off by not registering." said Deputy U.S. Marshal Brian Lord.
Marshals joined Guilford County sheriffs Saturday to make sure sex offenders' addresses match what the sheriff's office has on file.
"Most of them are not required to be there 24 hours a day. It's not like they're on home monitoring. Some of them won't be there." Lord said.
Lord says these checks have been going on around the state. In Guilford County on Saturday, 50 officers visited the homes of 280 registered sex offenders. Lord says the spot check is usually completed by the sheriff's department in June or July.
"You throw us in the mix, some of them sometimes don't know whether they're suppose to run out the back door or open the front and see what's going on." Lord said.
If a sex offender fails to register with the Guilford County Sheriff's Department, they issue a warrant for his or her arrest. Some registered sex offenders were caught off guard by their visit from law enforcement.
"When did you start doing this? I have never had this happen to me in seven years." said one registered sex offender.
He says spot-checks on sex offenders make it difficult for registered sex offenders to live a normal life, and he says the attention casts them in a negative light.
"Everytime I hear a car or a knock, I'm afraid someone is coming to get me or arrest me whether I've done anything or not." he said.
Lord says many registered sex offenders keep in regular contact with the sheriff's department, but he says the operation is intended to let all registered sex offenders know that law enforcement is serious about verification. Lord said the Saturday operation was successful and that no warrants were issued.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin