Deputies Check Up On Sex Offenders
A few dozen deputies went door-knocking Friday morning around the valley to make sure sex offenders were playing by the rules.
Calling out the offenders' names and listening carefully as they knocked, deputies drew a curious neighbor or two if their summons went unanswered. Those registrants that answered the door were cooperative, used to the drill of bringing deputies up to speed on their activities.
Teams spread out to drop in on those offenders who listed their residence in the Santa Clarita Valley to make sure they were in compliance with the terms of their release. According to Lt. Steve Low, who heads the SCV Detective Bureau, the deputies were visiting 200 locations.
Even though the morning operation didn't offer pursuits or even a heated confrontation, but are definitely worth the time spent. Low said that the unannounced visits are made twice a year to check that registration information is kept current.
"It's more an information gathering operation today," Low explained. "Basically we knock on doors and talk to the person, if they're not home, we find out if they're still living there. If they've moved and didn't tell us, we go to the district attorney and file a complaint so there will be a warrant out for them."
By law, persons convicted of specified sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders with the Sheriff's Department or the law enforcement agency governing their city of residence.
Registered sex offenders are required to update their information annually, within five working days of their birthday. Some sex offenders must update more often: transients must update every 30 days, and sexually violent predators, every 90 days.
About a quarter of registered offenders are excluded from public disclosure by law, depending on their offense. California was the first state in the nation to enact a sexual offender registration law.
Megan's Law, which was enacted in 1996, supports a website that allows local law enforcement agencies to notify the public about sex offender registrants. In addition, Jessica's Law - and local ordinances such as the one enacted by the Santa Clarita City Council in May of this year - restrict how close offenders can live to places children congregate. In the city, registrants cannot live within 2,000 feet of public or private schools, trails, parks, paseos or open space. A county ordinance also governs their proximity to child care facilities, hotels and multifamily living arrangements.
Having the database available to the community helps both law enforcement and people staying aware of who's in their neighborhood.
"Say someone is having problems with someone bothering them at a bus stop," Low said. "We can look through the database for that area and see who's living around there, look at their pictures and see if they match any descriptions given."
For a link to the Megan's Law website, click here.