Jimmy Shinn, Marion County sheriff, could be found knocking on doors Wednesday afternoon. However, Shinn wasn’t out seeking votes, but information from the over 100 registered sex offenders who reside in Marion County.
“We are doing a sex offender compliance check on a big majority of sex offenders,” said Shinn, noting that the effort began Tuesday.
A total of 115 sex offenders are registered residents of Marion County. Of that total, between 80 and 85 make their home in Hannibal, according to the sheriff. Shinn estimates that contact will be made with around 100 of the individuals before the effort wraps up.
The program’s intention is TO verify the information given the sheriff’s department by the sex offenders is still accurate.
“We want to be sure they’re living where they say they’re living and working where they say they’re working,” said Shinn.
Virtually each visit entails a search of the individual’s living quarters to see if any pornography is present. If a computer is present, it will be checked for any files containing porn.
While Shinn says most of those contacted thus far “are doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” one man was taken into custody Tuesday after child porn was discovered on a computer at the residence. Another arrest was made Tuesday for an outstanding warrant stemming from an assault.
In addition to meeting with registered sex offenders, Shinn said personnel on the detail were on the lookout Wednesday for a handful of sex offenders who have refused to register with the sheriff’s department.
“I anticipate a couple will be difficult to find,” he said. “We’re going to go to their families and relatives and ‘shake the trees’ if you will and let them know we’re looking for them.”
Most of the checks don’t take long, according to the sheriff.
“Some take no more than five minutes,” he said. “One yesterday took about hour after we collected all the evidence.”
The checks are being performed by sheriff’s department personnel, who are working in conjunction with four U.S. marshals.
“It’s a specialized team that travels to different jurisdictions and helps,” said Shinn.
All the officers have been divided into four two- and three-person teams.
“Whether we send two or three people depends on the individual. Some have a violent history. In those cases we send three for safety’s sake,” said Shinn.
By the time the check is done, virtually the entire county will have been covered.
“We’ve already done the outskirts. We did Monroe City, Palmyra and Taylor yesterday (Tuesday). Today (Wednesday) we’re concentrating on the city of Hannibal,” said the sheriff.
Page 2 of 2 - While Shinn says full county-wide sweeps are not likely in the future because of his limited manpower, the sheriff department’s efforts to verify sex offenders’ information will continue.
“What I am planning to do is quarterly check on 10 to 15 who will be picked randomly,” he said.
Shinn believes these verification checks are important.
“Word will get out that the sheriff is checking. It lets the sex offenders and community know we take this seriously,” he said. “It’s my job to register sex offenders and to verify the information they give is correct. We need to keep an eye on these people.”
Residents can determine if sex offenders are living in their neighborhood by visiting the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Web site - http://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/PatrolDivisions/CRID/SOR/SORPage.html - or by calling the Marion County Sheriff’s office.
Within the next month, Shinn hopes to have on line a Web site listing the sex offenders residing in Marion County.