MCSO deputies conduct surprise compliance checks for sexually violent predators on Halloween

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INDIANAPOLIS — As trick-or-treaters hit the streets of Marion County, so did deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office’s (MCSO) Sexual and Violent Offender Registry Unit (SOR).

“What we’re doing tonight is what we do every day, every night, especially on Halloween. We’re trying to be extra vigilant with the kids and families out trick-or-treating,” said MCSO SOR Deputy Cameron Royal.

The SOR is responsible for strictly enforcing compliance for Marion County’s more than 1,800 registered sexual or violent offenders. The MCSO, not long ago, reallocated resources in the department and has been able to focus on tackling the issue of non-compliant sex offenders in the community.

Ahead of Halloween, deputies with the MCSO conducted compliance checks, visiting the homes of sexual predators and offenders and those efforts continued on Halloween as well.

“The ones that I’m checking on tonight, they’re registered as sexually violent predators,” said Royal. “That just means that particular case that they have meets certain criteria–that might be that it was a violent sexual offense or if this person has more than one unrelated sexual offense, it bumps them up into that higher tier.”

Although state law requires sexually violent predators be checked on every 90 days, the MCSO checks on them once per month.

The checks are unannounced and are done with the purpose of making sure registered offenders are in compliance of their sex offender registry requirements.

“The biggest reason why it’s important for us to do what we do out here is, we need to know who’s living in our communities,” said Royal. “People should be able to know who their neighbor is, if their neighbor’s a registered sex offender or registered violent offender.”

In conducting checks, the MCSO said they’re also making sure people are upholding their obligation of keeping things like their address and employment information up to date.

“So we just come by and make sure that they’re actually telling us the truth,” said Royal. “We’re doing it every day. People probably see us out here every day and don’t even know what we’re doing but we do this day in and day out, checking maybe new addresses that they’ve moved to in a new neighborhood.”

Parents out with their children said they were glad to hear of the MCSO efforts to keep families safe as they began heading door-to-door to trick-or-treat.

“I think it’s one of those things that it’s not fun to talk about, but it’s nice to be proactive about it and have an approach to dealing with that to make sure an event is still enjoyable for my kids and the kids in the neighborhood,” said Tim Barnes, who has two children.

“It’s just one extra level of protection and you know my protection is good, but the community’s protection is better, I think,” he added.

“It’s awesome. I really appreciate it and are glad that the deputies are out here, and they have our backs,” said Aaron Williams, who was out Sunday night with his son for his first ever trick-or-treating experience.

“It’s something I think that’s kind of unavoidable if you’re going to live in society, but I’m really glad that they’re out here doing their due diligence and making sure we’re safe,” Williams added.

Williams said there were plenty of families out in the neighborhood they were trick-or-treating in, which was about 1.5 miles from several sex offender compliance checks conducted by the MCSO.

“We weren’t sure what to expect but we’ve seen a ton of trick-or-treaters, there’s a lot of friendly people and neighbors that we’ve met so we’re excited to be out here. You know, we haven’t gotten to do this the last couple of years with COVID and of course young one so it’s exciting,” said Williams.

According to the MCSO, whose responsibilities are strictly enforcement, anyone who is a registered sexual or violent predator and not permitted to take part in Halloween festivities would usually have a letter placed on their door saying they are not participating in trick-ortreating.

On any day of the year — not just Halloween — Royal said he recommends people familiarize themselves with people who live in their neighborhoods, especially if they have young children.

“We always encourage everybody in the community to check that out just to know who’s living around you,” he said.

Royal shared a story about a recent encounter that he said showed the reason for the importance of knowing who your neighbors are.

“Recently I went to check on a sex offender, who I typically am able to make contact with the person, and I wasn’t able to, so I spoke with their neighbor and the neighbor said, ‘Oh yeah, I know all of my neighbors around here but there’s no sex offender living here, just this guy next door to who I talk to all the time.’

He continued, “Once I showed her the picture and the information, that guy was a registered sex offender — she just — it doesn’t mean he was doing anything particularly wrong, she just had no idea.”

You can go online to the MCSO website and search for offenders in your area by putting in an address. The tool, designed to increase community safety and awareness, will alert you if an offender’s address is in Marion County and within one mile of the address you enter on your subscription.

Another tool to view registered sex offenders in your area is the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registry.

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