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U.S. Marshals check on sex offenders over Halloween
Registered sex offenders who live in Yuma County have been getting knocks on their doors again this Halloween from fully armed U.S. Marshals, and they weren't there for trick-or-treating.
For the past five years, officers from the Yuma area's federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have joined forces to take part in Operation Safe Treat. The three-day operation, which began Monday morning and ends Halloween night, was created to ensure that sex offenders are in compliance with their registration requirements and not evading detection by law enforcement.
“The point of it is to do a sex offender check where we go around and make sure they are in compliance with their guidelines. One of the things we are looking for is basically are they living at the address that they have been claiming on their official documentation,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Ryan Jackson. “This is our way of giving back to the community, by making sure the streets are safe this time of year. We want families to be able to go out and enjoy the holidays without worrying about predators being out on the streets.”
Jackson said a secondary goal of the operation was enforcement on those who were no longer in compliance with their registration requirements and to ensure they aren't participating in any Halloween activities. He said that registered sex offenders are forbidden to have contact with children during Halloween activities and are not permitted to hand out candy or decorate their homes for the holiday.
“One of the reasons we conduct the operation on Halloween night is to stay visible to the public and to the sex offenders,” Jackson said. “It lets the public know we are out on the streets, helping to keep them safe, and also lets the sex offender know we are keeping them in check.”
Jackson said parents can also take extra precautions to make sure their children don't knock on any wrong doors. The best way to do that, he said, is by searching the sex offender registry for your area so you know which homes to avoid.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety is responsible for maintaining a Web site of registered sex offender addresses. You can search for registered sex offenders in your area by going to the agency's Web site at www.azdps.gov and clicking on Sex Offender Information. The Yuma Police Department also has a website at http://www.ci.yuma.az.us/2391.htm
Led by the U.S. Marshals Service, the joint operation involved officers from the Yuma Police Department, the FBI, Yuma County Adult Probation, the San Luis Police Department, the Yuma County Sheriff's Office, Somerton Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol and the Cocopah Police Department.
Jackson said officers would be visiting as many as 200 registered sex offenders.