Sheriff’s police to visit registered sex offenders on Halloween
Sun-Times Media Wire October 30, 2011 2:24PM
About 100 Cook County Sheriff’s Police officers will be visiting the homes of registered sex offenders in unincorporated parts of Cook County Monday, but they won’t be looking for Halloween treats. The officers will be conducting random compliance checks of registered sex offenders, at their residences, throughout the day on Halloween, according to a release from Sheriff Tom Dart’s office.
Officers will be going door-to-door conducting “knock and talks” to verify addresses, make sure sex offenders are in compliance with the rules and regulations, and to let them know there will be a strong police presence on Halloween.
“Halloween is a time of fun for children, and we want to make sure that on Sunday we are doing what we can to ensure the safety of kids out trick or treating, and to make sure the sex offenders within our jurisdiction understand that we will be watching them,” Dart said.
The compliance checks are part of a larger requirement Monday for registered sex offenders living in unincorporated Cook County to check in throughout the day at one of five Cook County Sheriff’s Office police facilities, where they will re-register, take a new photo and view an educational video detailing their responsibilities and requirements under the law and updating them on new regulations, the release said. These requirements include, but are not limited to, restrictions on the proximity of their residence to schools and parks; restrictions on employment at businesses that cater to children; restrictions on the use of internet social networks; and updating their home address and employment regularly.
This year’s new Halloween check-in requirement is a direct result of state legislation Sheriff Dart lobbied for, which allows police departments to keep better track of sex offenders.
The police facilities where registered sex offenders must report include Skokie, Leyden Township, Markham, Maywood and Ford Heights. There are 65 registered sex offenders in unincorporated Cook County.
Additionally, according to the sheriff’s office, after reviewing information about other sex offender cases around the country Dart learned that in some of the cases the police were at the offender’s residence for a routine check and never noticed anything different, or may have not looked in the backyard. “In the Jaycee Dugard case officers visited the residence regularly, neighbors called with complaints and officers even searched inside his house. But no one searched his yard,” said Dart. Dart notified his police department he wanted aerial footage in conjunction with a detective walking the grounds of each residence for this year’s compliance check.
In the past couple weeks, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department has been conducting aerial and ground checks on the residences of all registered sex offenders in unincorporated Cook County. A detective from the Sheriff’s office worked in unison with the officers in the helicopter to not just capture video and still photos, but also to walk each property while the helicopter hovered above.
The Sheriff’s Office also offers some tips for a safe and fun Halloween:
• Make sure children are dressed safely in flame-retardant costumes and not wearing masks that obstruct vision;
• Adults should accompany young trick-or-treaters;
• Never go inside a home to accept treats, unless you know the person;
• Target homes and blocks with which you are familiar for trick or treating;
• Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.