What is up with the peeping Tom officer?
By Jillian Kramer
MOBILE - The U.S. Marshals and 10 other local law enforcement agencies on Wednesday wrapped up Operation House Call, a hush-hush undertaking to verify the addresses of 346 of Mobile County's sex offenders.
Operation House call was "designed to be unpredictable," U.S. Marshal Inspector Ross Hebert said, unlike routine checks run by compliance officers. Those checks, Hebert said, happen the same time each year, and the offenders are notified in advance.
But Monday through Wednesday this week, the offenders had no idea they'd be checked.
"It will be a true indicator of where we stand with our sex offenders, and we'll really get to see how successful our sex offender programs are," Hebert said last week during a planning meeting.
Sex offenders are required to register with law enforcement agencies after they are released from prison.
During the checks, law enforcement officers verified 284 addresses, with 37 that "require further investigation" and 25 others that could not be verified or still need to be checked, according to a news release.
During the three-day detail, officers worked in 15 teams of two, each with a stack of file folders containing information about the sex offenders, from where they live and the car they are believed to drive to locations of tattoos and whether they have piercings.
In some cases, the officers had to verify offenders' addresses by talking to neighbors, doing a mailbox search or surveying the property.
Officers were also asked to gather extra information, such as cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses. One man's e-mail address included a reference to male anatomy; another man told the officer that his screen name was "holleruntilithurts."
- That is funny! An email address based on the male organ, maybe others should do this as well? Is it a law offenders have to hand over cell phone #'s and email addresses in Alabama?
None of the offenders were arrested during the operation, Hebert said, but charges may be brought in some of the 37 open cases.
For example, at one house in the Tillman's Corner area, the officers could not find the sex offender but did find children's toys scattered about the front and back yards.
- So what? Are they forbidden to have or be around their own children?
The sex offender was convicted in 1992 of first-degree rape and first-degree sex abuse after he sexually assaulted an 8-year-old and 11-year-old girl. He was released in 2002.
Sex offenders are not allowed to live with children or allow them to visit their home. Hebert took photos and passed the information on to the offender's compliance officer.
- I don't think this is correct. It is based on the judge's decision on whether the offender must not be around their own children.
"It will be investigated," he said.
Participating in the operation were law enforcement officers from the U.S. Marshals, Mobile Police Department, Mobile County Sheriff's Office, FBI, Prichard Police Department, Bayou La Batre Police Department, Saraland Police Department, University of South Alabama Police Department, Mobile Community Corrections Center and Alabama State Probation and Parole.