In an effort to ensure compliance on a night when many children are out and about in the community, the Surry County Sheriff’s Office conducted its yearly check on registered sex offenders Halloween night.
Each Halloween, deputies with the sheriff’s office check in on registered sex offenders living in the county to make sure they are abiding by their sentence requirements. Sheriff Graham Atkinson said the office had 79 people to check up on, higher than the 64 who were checked on last year.
The effort, dubbed “Operation Silent Night,” was a success, according to Atkinson. He said deputies were able to contact 70 people in person. They were not able to make direct contact with the other nine, though they did either talk to them on the phone or learn of their whereabouts from others and are checking up on them.
Atkinson said there were six possible violations such as address changes or significant changes in appearance that warranted further investigation, but as of the next afternoon no one had been charged.
Officers held a briefing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, and Atkinson said they were able to check up on almost everyone by 9 p.m.
“Everyone was very polite and cooperative,” Atkinson remarked. He said most had tried things to discourage trick-or-treaters from coming to their houses, such as turning lights off or blocking the driveway.
Though on occasion the office conducts surprise visits to sex offenders’ residences, they are all aware of the annual Halloween check-up.
“They know this is coming, and we want them to,” said Atkinson. He said it ensures that they are where they are supposed to be on Halloween.
In June, the sheriff’s office and U.S. Marshals did a surprise check on registered sex offenders. Atkinson said at the time that there were 84 sex offenders in the county and 14 were in custody, leaving 70 to be checked on. Three absconders were revealed as a result of that operation.
The sheriff said he thinks many community members are aware of the Halloween effort, since he heard several comments about the operation and the large number of officers out and about. Atkinson said the sheriff’s office had 16 additional people on staff for the night, with extra patrols running until around midnight.
Other than a few small incidents, Atkinson said, “It was very quiet.”
Contact Meghann Evans at 719-1952 or firstname.lastname@example.org.