Operation Watchful Eye
The first official duty of Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, President of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, was to propose a coordinated effort involving all sheriffs’ offices across the state to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time frame. Operation Watchful Eye was born.
Two hundred and twenty-one registered sex offenders were arrested across the state during the week of October 26 – 31 for violations of state registration laws, thanks to our Georgia sheriffs.
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. Throughout the year each sheriff’s office verifies addresses provided by registered sex offenders.
While conducting residence verifications, deputies also check for compliance with additional registration requirements which may result in arrests. Prior to this initiative, there has not been a coordinated effort encompassing the resources of all sheriffs’ offices in order to illustrate to the public and offenders that this critical mission is being accomplished.
“We hope this statewide initiative created 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 and showcase the excellent work of our sheriff’s offices,” stated Sheriff Wilson.
Preliminary reporting by 86 sheriffs reveals a total of 11,982 registered sex offenders, 224 predators, and 145 homeless sex offenders currently living in their counties. Throughout the six-day operation, 8,045 residence verifications were conducted and 153 new warrants were issued for violations of the sex offender registry law. Thirty-nine counties reported that 68 sex offenders moved into their county during the week.
Other agencies such as the Georgia Department of Community Supervision (DCS) and U.S. Marshals volunteered to assist counties in this initiative. The DCS reported 3,994 compliance checks were conducted on registered sex offenders who are under probation or parole supervision.
In numerous counties, deputies and probation/parole officers worked together to verify sex offenders are in compliance with the law.
During the checks, DSC reported 28 firearms seized, 27 other weapons seized, 31 cases of illegal drugs found, 36 sexually explicit items confiscated, and over 800 sexually related images located.
Remember, for the protection of your family and neighbors, visit your local sheriff’s office website or visit the http://gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-sex-offender-registry for more information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders in your community.