What they would find after the sweep is most of the sex offenders were compliant.
Five matters will be investigated further said Halifax County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Chris Scott, who heads the civil division. The possible violations to be investigated are those dealing with online identifiers and address verification issues.
That the number of violations was low, Scott said, “Tells me this office is consistent with monitoring offenders. I think it’s a positive sign that we’re maintaining public safety. I believe it’s a win.”
In a 2014 sweep, when there around 102 registered sex offenders in the county, nine were found non-compliant, Scott said. “We take it very seriously. The idea was to beat the nine we had in 2014.”
The day begins
Scott began briefing probation officers, sheriff’s office investigators and deputies as well as agents of the City County Drug Task Force shortly after 5:30 this morning.
Prior to the briefing Scott said about 90 percent of the county’s sex offenders stay compliant. There's always some, he said, who “go astray.”
About 5 percent of those on the state sex offender registry are on it for life.
While part of the aim is to ensure compliance, another component is education, something he stressed to the officers during the briefing. “A lot of offenders are eligible to petition the court to get off the list.”
He provided the officers petitions. “That’s part of their job to tell them they can get off. It doesn’t cost a thing.”
Scott provided the officers dossiers with offender photos, aerial views of their residences and what he called “makeshift layouts” of their houses.
On the road
Chief Deputy Scott Hall followed the officers from location to location.
“I think this is one more effort we have to ensure the safety of the citizens and children from predators within our county lines,” he said, driving first to Roanoke Rapids.
Most of the offenders declined interview requests made through the officers doing the compliance checks.
Jimmy Clegg, who lives in Littleton, did agree to be interviewed.
He has been on the registry for 9 years and is one of those eligible to get off the list next year, according to his own account and information contained in the registry.
Asked what he did, he said he was accused of “hitting on kids” and “touching them in the wrong place.”
He claims, however, he didn’t do what he was charged with. “They messed me around,” he said of the authorities.
He was convicted in Harnett County of two counts of sexual battery when the victim in the case was 13 and he was 42.
He claims he “got caught up” in a matter with his first wife but didn’t seek a jury trial in his case.
Because he is listed on the registry, “I can’t be around kids, can’t be around schools.”
When he gets off the registry, he said, “I’ll be happy then.”
The registry does note he has not had any violations while his name has been on the registry.
Scott declined comment on what Clegg said.
The end of the sweep
“The sheriff’s office has no tolerance when it comes to sex offenders and there are reasons why there is a sex offender registry,” Sheriff Wes Tripp said. “Deputies continue to monitor aggressively those on the sex offender list. What they found today is even more proof we take this seriously.”
Tripp said Scott is tasked with monitoring the sex offenders in the county and each deputy is assigned two sex offenders to check. “They don’t know when we’re coming to check on them.”
The sheriff also said he has people routinely call him on how often they are checked. “My response is to do what they can to get off the list. Some are on this for life. My passion will always be for the children and other victims of sex crimes in Halifax County.”