All sex offenders registered in Bartow County were found to be compliant with Georgia sex offender laws requiring verified residences during a recent annual sweep by sheriff’s deputies statewide.
Bartow sheriff’s deputies and officers with the Cherokee Judicial Circuit Department of Community Supervision participated in a statewide sheriffs’ initiative called Operation Watchful Eye IV recently.
The action was part of a statewide effort by Georgia sheriffs to verify registered sex offenders’ residences and check compliance with state laws within each county, said Sgt. Jonathan White of the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office.
A total of 246 sex offenders were registered in Bartow County in late October, including 11 sexually dangerous predators and four homeless offenders, White said.
“Residence verifications and compliance checks were attempted on each of the 246 registered offenders as well as one offender who moved and registered in Bartow County during the week of the operation,” White said.
Deputies successfully verified 208 were in the residences they registered. Offenders not seen were either working or at counseling sessions when deputies came to verify the addresses, White said.
“Contact has since been made with the (offenders) not seen during Operation Watchful Eye IV,” he said.
White added that deputies arrested two offenders for outstanding probation violations.
The sheriffs’ initiative led to the arrests of 40 sex offenders and warrants issued to 147 for violations of state registration laws statewide between Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, a news release stated.
During the seven-day operation, deputies conducted 7,535 residence verifications; issued 18 new warrants for violations of the sex offender registry law, and 13 warrants for new sex offenses; issued 48 warrants for residency violations of the sex offender registry and 28 warrants for other miscellaneous new charges.
Ninety-six new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, the release stated.
“More importantly, it was discovered that 190 sex offenders had absconded from their last known address, which will require the sheriff to work with other supporting agencies and track these individuals down,” it stated.
The first coordinated effort to verify offenders’ locations across the state was launched In 2015 to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period.
Georgia’s sheriffs subsequently made Operation Watchful Eye an annual effort due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, the release stated
“The Office of Sheriff is mandated by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school,” a release from the Georgia Sheriff’s Association stated.
“The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network, and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make our state safer.”
Visit the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office website or http://gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-sex-offender-registry for more information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders locally and statewide.