A statewide initiative involving Georgia's sheriffs resulted in 38 sex offenders being arrested across the state Sept. 13–21 for violations of state registration laws.
The Bulloch County Sheriff's Office participated in the coordinated program known as Operation Watchful Eye, and one sex offender registered in the county was arrested during the operation, according to Capt. Todd Hutchens.
"The monitoring of sex offenders is an important task that the Sheriff's Office is responsible for, and we will continue to keep a close eye on them as mandated by the laws of the state of Georgia," Sheriff Noel Brown said.
Brown said Bulloch County averages about registered sex offenders in a given month, and contact with them is shared by the Department of Community Services. The Sheriff's Office makes regular visits to the sex offenders' homes and meets with the offenders in the office when they report to update their registration.
In 2015, the first Operation Watchful Eye was launched to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period. Due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, Georgia's sheriffs made it an annual operation and conducted Operation Watchful Eye III in September.
Preliminary reporting by 65 sheriffs' offices revealed a total of 10,601 registered sex offenders, 214 predators and 301 homeless sex offenders are currently living in Georgia counties. During the eight-day operation, 6,200 residence verifications were conducted, 35 new warrants were issued for violations of the sex offender registry law, 82 new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, 13 warrants were issued for new sex offenses, 69 warrants were issued for residency violations of the sex offender registry, and 46 warrants were issued for other miscellaneous new charges.
Also, it was discovered that 384 sex offenders had absconded from their last known addresses, which will require the sheriffs in those counties to work with other supporting agencies to track these individuals down.
Sheriffs' offices in Georgia are 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 assure additional registration requirements are being adhered to.
The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs' offices work collectively, network and actively engage their offices by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make the state safer. In numerous countiesm deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Probation officers and Department of Community Supervision probation/parole officers worked together to verify sex offenders are in compliance with the law.
Visit gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-sex-offender-registry for more information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders in your community.
Should anyone have information or questions about sex offenders in the county, contact Hutchens or administrative assistant Ami Lienhard at (912) 764-1744.