Sex-offender registry keeps deputies busy

Dec. 13, 2013 @ 05:29 PM

Tracking almost 400 convicted sex offenders in Durham keeps sheriff’s deputies busy each day as they travel through the county, making sure they’re abiding by the law and not living near schools or day-care centers.

That’s a big part of the sex offender registration unit, which the Durham County Sheriff’s Office manages.
The registry includes names and addresses of those released from prison after serving sentences for sex crimes. 
Enforcing the law is a never-ending effort.
“They must register with us and let us know where they’ll be living,” Deputy Jacob Cash, who works 10-hour shifts with the unit, said. “We check their address to be sure they’re legal.”
The law prohibits those on the registry from being within 300 feet or living within 1,000 feet of a school, day care or other place where children gather, he said.
Currently, Cash has about 380 convicted sex offenders on the registry, including 60 to 80 in jail or prison.
He keeps track of them all.
“I go out and check each person,” Cash said.
State law requires checks every six months, but Cash tries to make his address-verification visits more often. He also makes random checks.
The other deputy with the unit, Donna Meyers, gets Cash’s information and begins an investigation if someone has lied about where they’re living or their address is too close to children.
Failure to comply can bring a felony charge.
Cash said the unit has clamped down on letting released sex offenders wander about Durham without an address, because that makes it harder to keep tabs on them.
“We give them up to seven days to find an address,” Cash said. “But if they have an ankle bracelet through probation, then we have no issue with them going homeless, because we can monitor them. We want to keep our finger on each person as much as possible.”
If a sex offender moves to Durham from outside the county, authorities let deputies in the Bull City know. The reverse also applies.
Cash does up to five address-verification checks a day the old-fashioned way – by driving to the residence to make sure the person is there. Once Cash checks out everyone on the registry, he starts the process again.
The registry, which began in North Carolina in 1996, lets citizens learn who’s on it. The website also allows smart-phone users to download an application that sends an alert if an ex-offender moves near your home.
Ex-offenders aren’t allowed on Facebook or any social website where minors are allowed, and deputies enforce that rule, too.
Cash also relies on citizen tips.
“We appreciate it when the community helps us, because we can’t be everywhere all the time,” he said. “I want the community to know that we’re out here trying our best to help people feel safer, and that’s why we do what we do with the registry.”

FIND OUT MORE

For information online, search for North Carolina sex offender registry. To offer tips, contact Deputy Jacob Cash at 919-560-7093.