A countywide initiative this week ended with several arrests and a broader safety message to the community.
Officers from the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force and Department of Community Supervision did compliance checks on sex offenders in Bartow County.
“Remember that our main goal is to verify the residence of the sex offender. We want to make sure they are living where they have registered that they are living,” Beverly Parker, head of the BCSO sex offender unit, said during an officer briefing Thursday. “In addition to that, we want to give them some instructions about Halloween, that they stay in their residence, no lights on, no exterior decorations and that they not open the door to anyone other than law enforcement. That particularly applies to those that are on probation or parole. The offenders that don’t have any supervision, all that we can do is ask that they comply. It’s voluntary compliance. Remember that please.”
Working in teams of half a dozen or so, the officers canvassed “zones” around the county, distributing fliers from the BCSO that read, “Stop! No trick-or-treat at this address, a community safety message from Bartow County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Clark Millsap.”
“We don’t want any minor to inadvertently come to their residence and them be accused of something that they may or may not do. We don’t want to place them in harm’s way, so we are asking that they voluntarily put up the sign for Halloween. We cannot force. We cannot mandate. We are asking that they do this for us,” Parker said.
The effort, she said, is key to the community’s safety.
“It is extremely important for the safety of the children who are out trick-or-treating and all the folks who are taking part in the festivities of the holiday to keep everyone as safe as they possibly can be.”
At least one person was arrested earlier this week on child pornography charges.
“There is an ongoing investigation into both cases,” Parker said.
The agency sent home roughly 7,500 fliers with elementary students across the county offering safety tips for today’s trick-or-treaters.
“We have encouraged every elementary school children in the safety tips the sheriff sent home. ... It tells on there that parents need to go on our website, enter their address and see who lives in the areas where they’re going to be,” Parker said. “If they use our website, they can see where the sex offenders live whether they have a sign or they don’t have a sign. That’s what we encourage them to do, is to take that initiative. Sign up for the email alerts that let them know exactly when a sex offender moves within a two-mile radius of them.”
The BCSO website address is www.bartow.org. Citizens should click on the link at the bottom right of the home page called Offender Watch. From there, follow the instructions to check a neighborhood and sign up to receive the free email alerts.