By Adam Sullivan
ROYALTON - Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Barbara Zonay and her partner are making house calls Wednesday.
"We are going to make sure that everybody is in compliance. They have to list an address with the sex offender registry and that way we know where everybody is," Det. Sgt. Zonay said.
The pair is going door-to-door, checking on registered sex offenders in the towns of Braintree and Bethel. Sex offenders are required to register with the state to be listed on the online database. They are also required to update their information at the closest state police barracks on an annual basis. These detectives, and others around the state, follow up on a regular basis to make sure the information is accurate.
- If you are not on probation/parole, don't answer any of their questions nor let them in. They are there to only verify you live there, nothing else. But, we are not legal experts either, so use your best judgement, but don't let them violate your rights.
"We do them randomly. We can do them at any time. Different places do them at different times," Det. Sgt. Zonay said.
Vermont's Sex Offender Registry was established in 1996. The online database contains the names, towns and crimes committed. The registry does not list exact addresses, but police know where they live. Currently there are 1,445 on the state's online registry.
"We have a list of 50 or 60 in Orange County and Windsor County total. But we break them up into smaller groups, that way it is manageable," Det. Sgt. Zonay said.
Of the eight registered sex offenders checked on Wednesday, four were found to be living exactly where they are supposed to be. Three were not home at the time and the state police will follow up. The eighth was not in compliance at the beginning of the day due to an address error. But after being contacted by police, the necessary changes were made.
A recent check in Addison County found that 53 out of 56 offenders were complying with their online obligations. The coordinator of Vermont's registry did not have immediate numbers for statewide compliance rates, but officials say recent improvements to the database -- which includes more information and increased access for law enforcement -- is improving compliance rates. Det. Sgt. Zonay says it's making the public safer. "It is definitely a reason to do it and to make sure that the sex offenders know that we are paying attention too," she said.
- Most ex-offenders are compliant and obeying the laws in the first place, so it doesn't contribute to making people any safer, you are just trying to justify the registry and the violation of their rights. The registry and Gestapo checks have nothing to do with the compliance rates.
And police are doing it one offender at a time.