They came with cutesy names, such as “Operation Boo” or “Operation Watchful Eye”. They are sex offender compliance checks and multiple times per year, particularly around Halloween, law enforcement officers, usually in teams of half a dozen officers from different agencies including federal marshals, will pull up in front of the homes of persons forced to register as sex offenders, complete with marked cars and SWAT gear, to verify an address.
The operations are touted as multi-day and multi-agency. They are followed by headlines, such as “Operation Watchful Eye arrests 42 sex offenders statewide” or “40 Sex Offenders Arrested during Halloween Operation”, always implying that dozens of people were arrested for sexual offenses, but that is NEVER the case. For example, the first article admits, “During the one week operation, 7,878 residence verifications were conducted”. And “Thanks to an initiative involving 66 Georgia Sheriffs” 42 arrests were made.
There are a couple of things to consider here… First, 66 officers worked for one week on this operation. Assuming zero overtime, that’s more than $80,000 spent. Second, out of 7,978 residence verifications they made only 42 arrests. Effectively, out of nearly eight thousand investigations, about one-half of one percent resulted in an arrest. That’s pretty pathetic for the operation and pretty impressive for the people forced to register. But that’s not what these agencies’ press releases feed the public. The press releases talk about the “42 sex offenders arrested” because that’s the narrative that suits the police department. Next year hopefully they will get another $80,000 or even more budgeted and that’s what they care about.
Unfortunately that’s not the narrative that suits the public. The headline only perpetuates the fear that dozens of sexual offenses are taking place during any given week and but for the necessary work of these law enforcement agencies, their children could be sexually assaulted at any minute. The reality is that the headline could have (and probably should have) read, “Law enforcement spent one week performing address verification on 7,878 people required to register and found 99.5% compliant”. The truth, however, does not suit the law enforcement agencies, who get millions in funding from the federal government.
The final thing to consider is the results. These are never new sex offenses or solved abductions. These are petty technical violations of obscure rules the rest of the public is not required to follow. If you took an equivalent number of people who committed property crimes and told them they were required to report in person to the sheriff’s office whenever their roommate’s auto tag changed or report, in person, to the driver’s license office and the Sheriff, if they went away for a long weekend, I’ll bet the numbers would be similar. Or, what f you subjected drug offenders to random urinalysis for the rest of their lives? Do you really think you’d get a 99.5% compliance rate?
A few months ago, Journalist Steven Yoder wrote an article in The Appeal, titled, “Why the U.S. Marshals Spend Millions on Sex-Offense Registrant Sweeps“. The article stated that “[s]ince 2006, the federal government has funneled millions into sometimes-massive operations to verify the addresses of those on sex-offender registries…. Meanwhile programs with proven track records in preventing sexual violence or successfully reintegrating people previously punished for a sexual crime get little federal help.” The article highlighted what’s completely obvious to us, but the general public is completely oblivious of because of these false narratives perpetuated by the law enforcement agencies in order to fool the public and defraud the federal check writers.
We need to do our part in educating the public and making them aware of the TRUTH behind these “operations”. We also should do our part to cut off the source of funding for these operations and ask that it instead be diverted to measures that prevent sexual abuse (such as educating parents and children about the warning signs of sexual abuse or heightened supervision in schools, where one in ten children are assaulted). Our part could include sharing this post with your local media or your US Senator or representative.
As an organization that is 100% on board with preventing sexual abuse, let’s use our numbers to actually do something about it.
I know this is an older thread, but I have to get this out. I am just livid. My son works full time out of the home. We live in a home together. May is his month to register ( he will this week) – twice this month Volusia county have come to the door for address check while he was at work. He tried to call after the second time but was unable to get the officer on the phone. This morning at 3:30 AM a deputy rings the doorbell, blue lights flashing in front of my home, wakes me and makes me wakes my son. The deputy looks at his ID and then sits in front of the house in his vehicle with his lights going for about 5 more minutes at 3:30 in the morning! This is infuriating- now I can’t go back to sleep (ptsd) and I am sure my son is having trouble also! I am so angry! These address checks aren’t even a requirement!!!! Volusia county
Old Karen, Sorry for the bad experience. You are right though; its NOT a requirement.
I used to live in a city where the cops would come repeatedly day after day at 2 in the morning right after I verified. It was infuriating to say the least. I mean, I can almost understand coming one time, but to come 4 or 5 days in a row and always waking me up at god awful hours was just plain harassment. One day I finally had enough and let them have it good, throwing every name in the book at them and cussed them out royally before slamming the door in their faces so hard it shook my house. Needless to say, they stopped their BS and I soon moved out of that city where I have been for 5 years now without a single harassment check.
I can’t tell you or your son what to do, but as long as you keep bowing down to them, the harassment will never end. Stand up for yourself and assert your and your son’s rights because there’s not a damn thing they can do about it (unless he’s on parole or probation). They may come back the next day, or maybe they won’t, but in all likelihood they will get the message and stop coming to your house.
Cops love asserting power and authority over those who allow it, but if you start asserting your own authority and rights, they’ll soon stop harassing you.
Thank you and that sounds horrible!! Usually they try to be discreet but this “you know what” wasn’t. The hour was bad enough but having the light bar going like he was on a call made me furious and then to sit in front of the house in his car with the lights still going was uncalled for!
Karen, this would be a reason to file a complaint against the Volusia County sheriff.
Absolutely file a complaint against the sheriff. If it was me I would have all of this on video with date and time.
I have doorbell video from it with date and timestamp
I am curious, since most counties do this, do we know where this policy came from? Does the sheriff have to have a formal policy about it? Would I file the complaint with the sheriff or some other entity? Thank you!
Karen, the policy is to conduct address verifications. I doubt there’s any policy of doing them at 3 in the morning, or with the light bar on. If there is, that’s even sillier. It doesn’t hurt to ask them.
Local police departments may have a policy to do these checks, but policies are NOT laws, and NOWHERE is it written in any SORA law that compliance checks are a requirement, therefore, you do not have to abide by their policies regarding these checks. Since the checks are NOT laws, you do not have to cooperate with the police, nor do you even have to open the door. In the past, I’ve found a simple “get the F off my property!” to be quite effective in making them get back in their cars and leaving. I once had police show up at the early morning hours in plain clothes driving unmarked cars. I knew they were cops but I called the sheriff to report armed intruders on my property. It was quite hilarious when the sheriff showed up. They did try to lecture me but I told him he wasn’t my dad lol. A couple other deputies thought it was quite funny.
I may be a little more blunt than you are, but I believe in standing up for my rights and speaking what’s on my mind.
If I were you, I would also take other’s advice and file a complaint. In the future if it happens again, maybe politely ask them for their names and badge numbers, and once provided, say thank you for providing the information for you to file a complaint then close the door without saying anything else. File that complaint. Maybe nothing will come of it, but maybe the higher ups in the department will take note of it and leave you and your son alone. You won’t know if you don’t try.
You don’t deserve to go through this, so I hope it works out in your favor. Please keep us informed.
I’m curious- has anyone in Duval County been abused like this? We’ve been really fortunate and have never had a bad experience with JSO at home or when registering downtown. The officers have been extremely polite and respectful- just had a check in this week and the officer told my husband, “yeah, we don’t ever worry about you- there are a couple problem people we have but you’re not one of them.” They also always call first to make sure he’s home because he works late hours, and only one officer comes. Truthfully, I always brace myself for a bad experience, because I know statistically, we’re bound to get an asshat eventually!
Rachel d, you are aware that your husband does not have to comply with compliance checks, right? While its cool that they seem to be respectful about it, I would handle it differently. If they called me to verify I would be home, I would politely tell them that anything they need to verify can be found in the paperwork they have when I do my in person verifications, and that I do not know if I will be home or not because I’m a free man and I might make last minute plans to go somewhere. Then I would tell them that I do not answer my door between the hours of 5:00 pm to 8:00 am, so it would be a waste of their time to come check on me. If they call you to ask if your husband will be home at a certain time, I would be more inclined to say he’s a grown man and can speak to himself, or ask why they ask, is he on probation or something and required to be home?
I simply refuse to cooperate with police in any way unless it benefits me or my family in some way, but that’s just me.
They are taking a page out of the Joseph Goebbels play book for media relations to instill alleged fear.
Meanwhile, Twitter erupts over CBS’s ‘The Good Fight’ finale which has character accuse DeSantis of being sex offender’
They came to my residence on Halloween night. Never seen anything like this, since my county doesn’t do any kind of compliance checks or anything like that.
So…HOW do we do something about it? HOW do we educate the public?
Our part could include sharing this post with your local media or your US Senator or representative. You can copy and paste the post, links and all, and send it to them.
Thank you for writing this.
I have already sent this post to every US and State Senators and Representatives in my state.
Just think of everyone did the same what could happen.
You are awesome DS! We need more members like you!
You could also join one of the many advocacy groups out there. C.A.G.E. , NARSOL, Women against registry just to name a few. There are people fighting this injustice everywhere but there needs to be more! The fear monger is in control and we have to take that control back