Pulaski County Sheriff's Department spent the week before Halloween and some days after wrapping up its annual sex offender compliance checks.
There were 95 total checks in Pulaski County and officers had to check each one for compliance.
Three years ago, when the program started, there were 20 offenders listed as non-compliant, as in not registered. Of those original 20, PCSD was down to two and located one of them out of state. Captain Linda Burgess told the Daily Guide he was located in the Kansas Blue Springs area and arrested for non-compliance.
"We're down to one," Burgess said.
The program was started when former Sheriff Ron Long was in office and current Sheriff Jimmy Bench has kept it going. Deputies, with the help of all the law enforcement agencies in the county, physically visit sex offenders to check for compliance.
The check is done around Halloween because Missouri state law prohibits sex offenders from participating in the holiday in any way, including having up decorations, having their porch lights on during trick or treating, and other rules.
PCSD has taken the opportunity during the checks to catalogue vehicles, take pictures of residences, note any tattoos, piercings, or other identifying marks, and generally collect information that can be used to identify particular individuals at a later date.
Law enforcement also checks, based on whatever the offender's restrictions might be, things like internet access, vehicle registration, location of a residence, and other pertinent information.
The Daily Guide rode along with Bench and dispatcher Kim Luttrell to do checks near the Dixon area the Thursday before Halloween, while other members of the department took other areas of the county. Bench said he felt the checks were important "because we have to protect our kids."
During the time the Daily Guide was present checks were made at about six or seven residences. Each stop, depending on if the offender was home, took about 20 minutes to a half hour.
Bench and Luttrell noted and took photos of any vehicles that were present, as well as checking registrations of vehicles during stops. The purpose of this is because each vehicle has to be registered with PCSD as belonging to a registered offender. They are required to register the vehicles, even if they aren't running.
Bench said that offenders often forget or don't realize that vehicles are required to be registered and this was true at two of the stops that were made while the Daily Guide was present.
Bench and Luttrell entered each residence, when the offender was home, and checked for compliance on each offender's restrictions. Restrictions differ from offender to offender based on their convictions, the states they were convicted in, and the years they were convicted.
Burgess and Detective Christian Butler sat down with the Daily Guide last week to discuss the results of the compliance checks. Burgess told the Daily Guide that at the time offenders register with PCSD, they are given a packet, the department goes over their restrictions, and each offender has to sign off on their understanding of what is required of them.
"A lot of it has to do with the year the crime was committed," Butler said pointing to changing laws throughout the years. "It also depends on the violence of the case and we're dealing with laws in different states, plus Missouri law, the terms of plea deals, different conditions, but they all still have to abide by the state offender's law."
PCSD charges each offender $5 to register and $5 every time they have to change or add vehicles or other changes to their registrations. Burgess said this is because the state requires law enforcement to set up registration, but doesn't fund it.
During this year's compliance checks, four offenders were arrested for non-compliance, Sedrick Taylor, Samuel Webster, Jason Paul Inmann, and Joshua Allen Brand. A stolen vehicle was also found and recovered during the checks.
On Halloween night, law enforcement was also out patrolling and making sure that offenders remained compliant to Missouri's law concerning Halloween participation. Brand was arrested for failure to comply with Halloween related restrictions.
The public is encouraged to contact PCSD with any questions or concerns they might have about sex offender registration and compliance.