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Knocking at the door
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Knocking at the door
Sheriff's deputies come calling on every registered sex offender

In the woods in rural Wilson County, a trailer sits tucked away out of sight on a sandy, gravel path off Sawdust Road.

Records indicated it was one potential address of a sex offender. When deputies showed up, he wasn’t there. They would then visit his other address in an attempt to verify where he actually lives.

"This is a high-risk warrant,” a deputy advised as three sheriff’s office cars lined the gravel road to try to find the man.

They didn’t take any chances with safety.

There are about 133 registered sex offenders spread out across Wilson County. Each year, deputies at the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office verify their addresses. They do this in person, on site, face to face.

They want to know where people convicted of sex offenses actually live, not where they say they live.

North Carolina law requires sex offenders who have been convicted of certain offenses to register with their respective county sheriff. The sheriff collects information from the offender and court documents.

This past Wednesday, deputies paired up as part of Operation Hope to check on 30 such sex offenders.

Detective Felicia Simmons, who oversees the sheriff’s office sex offender registry and county sexual assault cases, briefed detectives on the operation ahead of them and the fact that not all the suspects are just sex offenders.

Sign Up for Alerts

You can sign up to receive an email notification when a sex offender reports moving to a North Carolina address within 1, 3 or 5 miles of your home or any address.

The N.C. Department of Justice is offering a free N.C. Sex Offender Registry app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The app makes information mobile, using GPS information to map where offenders live.
Detectives feared one suspect might even be armed.

"Just be careful with him,” Simmons advised. "He might be packing. He is no joke.”

Deputies knew in many cases the offenders wouldn’t be home and they might face trip after trip.

"If they are not there, fill it out in detail,” Simmons said.

She told deputies to ask whoever answered the door: "When is the last time you have seen him? If you go to a house and it looks like it’s abandoned, write it down. If you go to a house and they are not being cooperative, write that they are not cooperative.”

Sex offenders have to live with certain restrictions. It goes with the territory, officials said.

"These people are sex offenders,” Simmons said. "The people they are living with already know the stipulations. They have a 16-page contract that I give them when they come to me with the do’s and don’ts. They know and the residents know.”

For example, they cannot have a Facebook page. They cannot have a Web site page. They can only have an email address.

"That’s it,” Simmons said. "That’s all they can have.”

Some of the 130 are on federal probation, Simmons said.

"Some have very long criminal records; don’t forget that,” Simmons said.

Sheriff Calvin Woodard said all the offenders were verified a year ago and they are being verified once again.

Woodard praised the sheriff’s office efforts to keep track of sex offenders.

He noted before Detective Simmons took over the program, before this administration, they found addresses where people listed living in graveyards, staying in ponds or in vacant lots.

"She put everything together,” Woodard said. "She brought in the U.S. Marshals. They worked with us. They brought their intelligence in. We put all our information together. We went out and located every sex offender under the jurisdiction of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.”

Woodard said the department doesn’t stop at the basics of what the state requires.

Normal convicted sex offenders are treated differently than sexual predators. Predators have to be checked every 90 days.

And if anyone moves, they have to let the sheriff’s office know within three business days or they are charged.

For Wednesday’s operation, deputies divided into teams and spread out into every corner of the city of Wilson and Wilson County.

For those not verified that night, sheriff’s officials will utilize school resource officers with the close of the academic year to verify the remaining 100-plus sex offenders.

In one case, the sex offender had been injured previously in a wreck, officials discovered.

Of the 30 people deputies sought that night, only one faced charges for failure to register — James Walter Taylor, 400 Manchester St. | 265-7813
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to mom of 4 said...

Remeber they checked the last address given. There was a better way... they actually checked. You can not just appreciate, bnut trying to anialate

Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 6:01 AM
mom of 4 said...

we moved 3 years ago and discovered 2 of our neighbors across the street were registered sex offenders. imagine my delight when they packed up and moved out 2 weeks later. then last year when they came to check the address {2 years after the sex offenders moved} they surrounded the house with armed officers and scared the current resident half to death. there has to be a better way, but kudos for them for actually checking the addresses.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 11:58 AM
Proud said...

This is what we need to see you doing WCSO!! Great job making it happen! Cleaning up WC one step at a time! Give these guys the raise they haven't seen in years but deserve more than anyone!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 8:25 AM
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