Calling it a proactive move to provide children with a safe evening of trick-or-treating, Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes announced Thursday that many registered sex offenders living in the county are required to attend a mandatory meeting from 5-8 p.m. Monday.
Sikes said Cpl. Shonda M. Fletcher, the LCSO sex offender coordinator, came up with the idea and Sikes suggested the department come up with a plan to implement it.
“We checked into the legality of it, if, in fact, we could do it and we also got the probation and parole departments on board,” he said.
After doing the research, the sheriff’s office sent letters to all registered sex offenders living in subdivisions and high-traffic trick-or-treating areas to inform them of the required meeting in the courtroom at the Liberty County Jail.
“We are asking all of the sex offenders to attend an informative meeting at the Liberty Jail on Halloween night so that our kids can trick-or-treat in a safe environment in their own neighborhoods,” Sikes said. “We had over 70 people already respond to it.”
The sheriff said they targeted the more densely populated neighborhoods and subdivisions but added that rural areas will be patrolled by deputies as a precautionary measure.
“We were bouncing around ideas on how to make our city and county a little bit safer for our kids and here is a way we can do it,” he said.
Sikes said there are a few people who are exempt from attending the meeting.
“We have a few cases where they can verify that they are working and they are exempt from attending,” he said. “But we are getting verification that they are working.”
Fletcher said the meeting also is an opportunity to gather and provide new information to the group.
“We will go over current laws and regulations and anything new that has come from the Georgia legislators,” she said. “There will be a question-and-answer session for them. They can express any concerns they have and they will have the opportunity to provide any updates on their personal information as far as employment or anything like that.”
Sikes and Fletcher anticipate most of the offenders will be cooperative, “But but if they choose not to come, I will have officers on standby to make sure that everything is on the up-and-up,” Fletcher said.
“Probation and parole will check into the guys who don’t show up,” Sikes added. “It’s a joint effort by a lot of us.”