County holds verification checks

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

By Stephanie Nelson and Andrew Garner

Escambia County’s sex offenders experienced a surprise compliance check Monday after a joint operation organized by the U.S. Marshals and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

Currently, there are 99 active sex offenders residing in Escambia County. The operation will continue in the coming days, said ECSO Investigator Bruce Shue.

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Monday marked the first in a week-long operation.

“During the day’s events, we were able to verify the information such as place of residence and employment of 37 Monday,” Shue said. “And of those, we are now investigating three cases of failure to register.”

Under Alabama law, convicted sex offenders must follow certain residency guidelines based on their convictions. For example, those convicted of sex crimes involving minors may be prohibited from living in a home with minors present. Most are prohibited from living too close to a school or childcare facility. All are required to register their place of residency and employment to ensure their specific guidelines are not being violated.

“Our ultimate goal is to protect the citizens and children of this community – that is our No. 1 priority,” Shue said. “I’m pleased to report that officers and agents did not find any sex offender violating the condition where they can’t live in a home with minor children.”

Ed Eversman, sex offender coordinator with the U.S. Marshals, said the joint operation is commonplace for the office.

“We work to assist local agencies to make sure their sex offender registry information is up to date,” Eversman said. “In turn, that assists us in investigating cases that might meet the requirements of the Adam Walsh Act, a federal law which allows for arrests for transporting a child or individual with the intent to for them to engage in a sex crime.”

ECSO Investigator Presten Hill, along with two U.S. Marshals and county officers, are running the compliance check in Atmore and the surrounding area.

Hill said the compliance checks are more for verification.

Hill and the other officers visited some seven residences Monday and continued their effort throughout the rest of the week.

“We try to be as nice as we can be to them,” Hill said. “We’re there to do a job.”

Hill said if the registered sex offender isn’t at home, then he’ll get information from a person who lives there on the offender.

At a residence on Robinsonville Road, guns and live ammo were found in the sex offender’s home.

Hill said felons can’t have access to guns.

One of the offender’s relatives came and took possession of the guns and ammo.

Funding was provided by the federal government and covered the cost of the operation and equipment.

Also participating in the operation were members of the Brewton and Atmore police departments and the Alabama Department of Probation and Parole.