Butts County, GA – The sheriff of Butts County has gone an extra step to make sure the children of his community are safe this Halloween by posting warning signs in the yards of local sex offenders.
Butts County Sheriff Gary Long’s office posted an announcement on the sheriff department’s official Facebook page that said deputies have posted signs at the homes of all of Butts County's registered sex offenders.
“As Sheriff, there is nothing more important to me than the safety of your children,” Sheriff Long began his missive.
“This Halloween, my office has placed signs in front of every registered sex offender's house to notify the public that it's a house to avoid. Georgia law forbids registered sex offenders from participating in Halloween, to include decorations on their property,” the sheriff continued.
Then he explained why he was taking the rather extreme step of posting signage this year.
“With the Halloween on the square not taking place this year, I fully expect the neighborhoods to be very active with children trick-or-treating. Make sure to avoid houses which are marked with the [signs] in front of their residents [sic],” he warned.
The Facebook post said the signs had been place in accordance with Georgia Law.
The sheriff said that some of the sex offenders e-mailed to say that the signs were an embarrassment, but he doesn't care.
"At the end of the day, I don't care if they do like it or if they don't like it," Sheriff Long told CBS News.
Sheriff Long told WOWK that the warning signs would be removed from the sex offenders’ yards by Thursday morning.
In another Georgia town, the mayor announced he was going to round up all the sex offenders and hold them in City Hall for the three hours of trick-or-treating.
The mayor announced Tuesday that they would not hold the sex offenders in City Hall, after all. But a city councilman explained they would all be required to report in at an official location during trick-or-treating hours.
“While some may not agree with it, this reporting is perfectly legal and is administered as part of the conditions of the offender’s supervision (such as parole or probation),” Grovetown City Councilman Eric Blair wrote in an email on Monday, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Other law enforcement agencies across the country are taking extra steps this Halloween to keep children away from potential predators.
In New York, the East Hampton Town Police were running an operation all day and night on Oct. 31 that included intensive monitoring of sex offenders in that community, the East Hampton Patch reported.
Police said several detectives would be conducting intensified supervision of registered sex offenders, visiting sex offenders’ homes, and doing random surveillance to make sure everybody was following state and local law.
The East Hampton Patch posted a “2018 Halloween Sex Offender Safety Map” on their website that identified the residences of all the registered sex offenders in the East Hampton and Montauk communities.
Additionally, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has a policy designed to protect children during trick-or-treating called “Operation Halloween.”
Sex offenders in New York are required to remain inside at home on Halloween. They may not have Halloween candy in their possession, nor open their doors to trick-or-treaters.
Parole officers across the state practice a zero-tolerance policy on Halloween, and conduct face-to-face home visits to make sure the sex offenders are where they are supposed to be.