Saturday, May 8, 2010

KS - Kansas City Rapist Beaten in Jail

TX - Law Enforcement Operation Targets Sex Offenders Across the County

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HOUSTON - It's an unprecedented effort by local law enforcement in a county of this size. For the past 30 days, teams of officers have fanned out trying to check on as many registered sex offenders as possible.

They targeted those listed as high risk. If the offenders weren't in compliance, a warrant was issued for their arrest. U.S. Marshals organized the effort dubbed "Operation Space City Guardian."

While officers say it was a huge success, there's clearly still work to be done.

To call it time consuming would be an understatement. There are 5,100 registered sex offenders in Harris County. During the month of April, the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force checked on 2,478 of them.

"We want to know where they are. If they say they're living somewhere, they're supposed to be there. If they say they're working somewhere, they're supposed to be there. If not, they're going to be in violation," said Lt. Ruben Diaz, Harris County Sheriff's Office.

The law requires registered sex offenders to notify law enforcement within seven days of moving.

Fox 26 followed the task force as officers made compliance checks. While the vast majority were abiding by the law, 8.3% were not in compliance.

One of those offenders was _____. In 2002 he was convicted of indecency with a child involving a six-year-old girl. He last registered with Houston Police on November 2, 2009. When officers did a compliance check, they found he had moved on January 18, 2010. He had not registered a new address with any agency.

Shane Wechsler, deputy U.S. Marshal, says law enforcement aims to check on each sex offender at least once a year, but that doesn't always happen when you're dealing with criminal minds, a mobile society and limited resources.

Houston Police has four dedicated compliance officers, while Harris County has just two. Officers say one offender told them he hadn't been checked on in seven years.

"The ones they're not checking, they don't know where they're at so where are they?" said Sonia Parker.

Parker founded Parents Against Predators (another online vigilante group) last year after she was sexually abused as a child.

Parker and her volunteers wish there was an easy solution to keeping tabs on offenders.

"If they're going to let them walk the streets and be out in the Houston surrounding area, they should have someone watching them daily or lock them up," said Parker.

The task force made 225 arrests in 30 days, including that of _____. He was arrested May 1st after someone called Crime Stoppers.

"If you've got information on the fugitives we didn't get within this particular time frame we will still go out and get them," said Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

HPD and the sheriff's office are working on combining their sex offender registration units to streamline the process for both offenders and law enforcement.