Local News

Checks done on registered sex offenders in Durham

Posted March 11, 2010 12:27 a.m. EST
Updated March 11, 2010 9:38 a.m. EST

— Attorney General Roy Cooper says knowing where sex offenders live is an important tool in keeping North Carolina families and communities safe. To help with the effort, a joint operation is under way to check on every registered sex offender in Durham County.

Kenneth Baker, one of two deputies in the county assigned to check up on sex offenders, knows firsthand how challenging the task can be.

“It takes up a good portion of every day that we work,” he said. "We don't get to be as proactive as we'd like to be.”

The addresses of even those who cooperate must be verified every six months. People designated as repeat offenders are checked every three months.

"I would say probably two-thirds of our registrations are being compliant for the most part,” Baker said.

Baker is getting extra help this week verifying addresses through “Operation Bull Pen," a joint operation of local and federal authorities.

"I think it helps the county by giving them an opportunity to get ahead of the game. It’s always a reactive situation because people are moving around. They are coming in and changing the registry on a daily basis,” U.S. Marshal Deputy John Bridge said.

During the three-day operation, authorities will be issuing warrants for any sex offenders who aren't living where they claim to be. Authorities will also be checking to make sure offenders aren't living within 1,000 feet of a school or day care.

“I hope and pray, one day when I’m retired, that there is still somebody doing this job, so that I know that if my kids are at school or at daycare, that I may know where the offenders are that live around me,” Baker said of the effort.

More than 566 registered sex offenders live in Wake County, about 290 in Durham County and 69 in Orange County.

Their data is stored in a public registry available to anyone with Internet access, or by calling 1-877-627-2826.