Pandemic changes how some sheriff departments track down missing sex offenders

Pandemic changes how some sheriff departments track down missing sex offenders

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 Investigates uncovered there are nearly 300 registered sex offenders in Ohio listed as “non-compliant” in our story Thursday.

Today, we learned the pandemic may be changing investigations, but it’s not stopping them.

Mass address verifications for sex offenders are common practice at a lot of sheriff’s offices.

19 Investigates got to see the process ourselves in the spring of 2019 with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

We checked back in with them 16 months later.

“We do mass verifications, where we take a few days and we take a large amount of our deputies and our staff and we’ll go out and verify addresses. We can do hundreds of addresses in a matter of a couple of days,” said Inspector Bill Holland with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

But that has changed for some of them since the pandemic hit.

“Obviously with Covid, we have not done that this year, we had planned to do one this year, we weren’t able to do it,” Holland said.

“But what we’ve been doing is similar to what you do at the doctor, where we register you over the phone. And so we’ll get a bunch of the information ahead of time over the phone, so that limits the time that they’re in the office,” Holland said.

They follow up by sending a confirmation letter to their reported address to make sure it’s correct.

“That’s also a safeguard, that if they gave us a bad address, that would be kicked back and we have had a couple that have come back as not being their address,” Holland said.

19 Investigates checked in with Cuyahoga and Lorain counties too.

The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office said they have 2,894 registered sex offenders and 139 of those are non-compliant.

Non-compliance also includes if “the offender does not arrive in-person at the sheriff’s office for their periodic registration requirement.”

Cuyahoga County said they’re operating at the same level of service as they were pre-Covid, following CDC guidelines.

The Lorain County Sheriff’s Office said they have 515 registered sex offenders and nine are non-compliant.

They said the pandemic hasn’t changed their policies, except for wearing masks.

If you know where a non-compliant sex offender is living, you can report it to your sheriff’s office.

You can check to see if a sex offender lives near you and even find out which ones are non-compliant here.

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