HPD monitoring sex offenders on Halloween

HOUSTON The program targets sex offenders still on probation or parole. All are required to register and all should expect a knock from police sometime this week.

As Halloween night nears, Sgt. Glenn Shepherd and Officer Willie West pick up the pace. As part of HPD's Juvenile Sex Offender Registration Unit, they are checking the homes of registered sex offenders on probation and parole.

As everyone else displays their holiday spirit, for someone like Timothy Carson, convicted twice of aggravated sexual assault of a child, it's a big no-no.

"They are not to have any decorations up at all. Period. No welcome sign and they cannot have the light on," said Sgt. Shepherd.

First stop is a home on Webster in southeast Houston. After a couple of knocks, a mother comes to the door, followed by sex offender Ron Finley. He has his ID, his registration card and nothing that would lure children. He's in compliance.

But not every sex offender they are looking for is home. Sgt. Shepherd tries to verify the address with apartment managers or landlords and will request that a patrol unit follow up.

Even if there are no ghosts or pumpkins, there can be other red flags.

"This is kind of a problem. That's a whole lot of mail," said Sgt. Shepherd.

Even with a big bold sign on his door, Sgt. Shepherd is now concerned Robert Ivy may have moved, which would be a violation.

"It's a red flag saying we should check back on this guy," said Sgt. Shepherd.

Their ultimate goal is to keep track of sex offenders, protecting children from them and as Sgt. Shepherd explains, especially around the holidays, even protecting them from themselves.

"A lot of times this is a crime of opportunity. Just take that opportunity away," Sgt. Shepherd said.

There are roughly 4,000 registered sex offenders in the city of Houston and not all are still on probation or parole. However, there are only ten officers assigned to the registration unit so patrol officers on the street often help out.

There is a set of guidelines for sex offenders on Halloween. Sex offenders are not allowed to hand out candy or even be at a home where candy is being handed out. They are not allowed to decorate for Halloween or do anything else that could be interpreted as luring children.

Sex offenders also must turn porch lights off and not answer the door unless instructed to do so by police.

If sex offenders do violate any of the Halloween participation rules, they could have their parole or probation revoked.

To find out if there are any sex offenders in your neighborhood, click on this link where you can search a database of registered sex offenders.

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