Computer Crime Research Center


Agency approaches to sex offenders vary

Date: June 15, 2005
By: Lise Fisher

Children aren't the only ones knocking on doors on Halloween in Gainesville.

So are officers checking on registered sex offenders.

The detail, called Operation Safe Kids, is just one way area police and probation officers try to check up on local sex offenders and make sure those with a criminal history of molesting children aren't approaching kids.

Officers with the Florida Department of Corrections and local law enforcement agencies say they routinely and randomly check on sex offenders. They aren't specific about when they visit residences, or how often, but say it can be on a holiday, the weekend or even at night.

In Alachua County, the number of sexual predators and offenders comes to more than 300 men and women.

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Twenty-four of those sex offenders living in Alachua County have been designated predators.

Someone registered as a predator has either been convicted of one first-degree felony sex crime or two second-degree felony sex crimes committed within 10 years of when the previous crime occurred or the person was convicted or released from court sanctions, whichever was the most recent, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The crime must have been committed on or after Oct. 1, 1993.

Changes to Florida's sex offender laws that go into effect Sept. 1, however, will eliminate the 10-year window. That means more defendants with a history of sex crimes will be subject to a predator designation.

The term sex offender applies to anyone convicted of certain listed sex offenses and either released from sanctions or in prison on or after Oct. 1, 1997.

Convicted sex offenders' sentences and how long they're placed on probation varies, depending on factors including the nature of their crimes and defendants' criminal histories, prosecutors said.

While on probation, both sex offenders and predators must meet a variety of conditions. They have to pay for and annually take a polygraph exam and are restricted from living within 1,000 feet of a school, day-care center, park, playground or other place where children congregate. A 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew is in effect. They cannot own sexually explicit materials and must submit to a probation officer's warrantless search of their homes or vehicles.

State laws also set requirements for where sex offenders who have committed certain crimes against a victim under 16 can live and say certain predators can't work or volunteer in places where children gather.

Under changes to sex offender laws made this year, both a predator and an offender will be required to report to their local sheriff's office twice a year to verify personal information.

They also have 48 hours to report a change in their address, must report if they are enrolled or employed at a Florida college and, with new legislation, respond to address verification forms sent out by FDLE within three weeks or face being charged with a third-degree felony.

With this year's changes to the state's sex crime laws, certain sex offenders also will have to wear ankle bracelets and have their movements electronically monitored.

Defendants convicted of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12 and sentenced to 25 years prison will be on electronic monitoring after serving their prison sentence, under changes to Florida's sex offenders laws that take effect Sept. 1.

Others subject to monitoring include defendants convicted of certain sex crimes where the victim is 15 or younger, defendants previously designated as a sexual predator and then convicted of a subsequent felony or sex crime, or those listed as a predator or sex offender whose victim was 15 or younger and who are ordered to subsequent probation, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. The agency will oversee the monitoring, using Global Positioning System or GPS equipment.

DOC plans to track offenders using “active” versus “passive” monitoring. Active monitoring, which incorporates cell phone technology, gives a near real-time read of a person's whereabouts. Passive provides information every 12 hours.

Agency requirements
# Florida's sex offender laws also set requirements for law enforcement agencies watching the offenders.

If a sexual offender isn't on probation with the Florida Department of Corrections, officers with police departments and sheriff's offices must verify the address of a sexual predator at least quarterly and the residence of a sex offender a minimum of once a year.

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office and Gainesville Police Department verify addresses of predators and offenders at least once a month, according to both agencies.

The emphasis for the Sheriff's Office is on checking those listed as predators, said spokesman Lt. Jim Troiano.

Alachua County Sheriff's Detective Mike Powers handles address verifications of sex offenders for the department. “We knock on the door and make sure they live where they say they live. If we cannot get confirmation at the place of residence, we'll check with neighbors, family members and employers, whoever we have to check with to attempt to ascertain the residents' locations.”

“Because they're very transient, they tend to move from house to house, apartment to apartment, county to county,” said Gainesville Police Detective Duane Diehl. Verifying addresses, he said, “is a full-time job.”

Diehl updates any changes about the offender with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The agency maintains a state registry of sex offenders and a Web site listing their names, pictures, personal details about them, and the crime they committed.

The site, at, was the first of its kind in the country and started in the mid-1990s, said Mary Coffee, senior management analyst supervisor at FDLE. A new option on the site allows searches for offenders and predators to be done by neighborhood, not only by a person's name or a city, county or ZIP code. Recently added was a short list of some predators and offenders wanted by authorities.

Coffee said the agency is constantly looking for ways to upgrade the site. “The goal is to put on any information we have that we can give to the public,” she said.

FDLE also has a toll-free number for people to contact the department's Sexual Offender Unit for information about sex offenders around the state at 1-888-FL-PREDATOR.

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office also has added the list of sexual predators in the county and a map showing where they live to their Web site at

Law enforcement agencies are required, by law to notify the public about the presence of a sexual predator “in a manner deemed appropriate by the sheriff or the chief of police.”

Within 48 hours of learning a predator is living in the area, the agencies must notify each licensed day-care center, elementary school, middle school, and high school within a one-mile radius.

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office uses an automatic phone system to notify the schools and day-care centers in the area, Troiano said, and puts out a press release to media.

Gainesville Police notify all day-care centers in the county and the Alachua County School Board, who pass on the information to schools, about a predator's movements, said police spokesman Sgt. Keith Kameg.

The law does not require public notification about the movements of sex offenders. But an agency can if they believe it's necessary.

In certain cases, when deputies believe a sex offender represents a high-risk to a community, the agency does provide notification similar to when a predator moves into a neighborhood, Troiano said. The Police Department does the same, Diehl said.

And local officers from both agencies speak to crime watch groups and update them about predators and offenders in their neighborhoods.

This summer, the Sheriff's Office is using school resource deputies to check on sex offenders and predators, Powers said.

Diehl said the police department has a new computer program that allows officers to see who is listed as a sex offender or predator in the zone they are working. With the information, officers conduct random checks on those listed.

Starting Dec. 1, when a sex offender reports in person for a required, biannual check at the local sheriff's office, the department will have two working days to update all of that person's information with FDLE.
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2011-02-27 15:43:02 - Hi Vaginator, so which part of my... Damian
2011-02-27 15:41:50 - Hi Vaginator, so which part of my... Damian
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2010-11-22 20:47:02 - l me
2010-11-02 20:06:26 - Hello everyone, My name is Damian... Damian Garcia
2010-08-04 16:54:30 - These registry laws Are not working and... anita
2009-08-30 20:56:47 - As a registered sex OFFENDER I suffer... private
2005-11-20 20:45:21 - Hello I mean you neither anger nor harm in... Kari
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