About 100 Cook County Sheriff’s Police officers will be visiting the homes of registered sex offenders in unincorporated parts of Cook County Monday, but they won’t be looking for Halloween treats. The officers will be conducting random compliance checks of registered sex offenders at their homes throughout the day on Halloween, according to a release from Sheriff Tom Dart’s office.
Officers will be going door-to-door conducting "knock and talks" to verify addresses, make sure sex offenders are in compliance with the rules and regulations, and to let them know there will be a strong police presence on Halloween.
“Halloween is a time of fun for children, and we want to make sure that on Sunday we are doing what we can to ensure the safety of kids out trick or treating, and to make sure the sex offenders within our jurisdiction understand that we will be watching them," Dart said.
The compliance checks aren't all sex offenders will have to do to stay in compliance this holiday. On Monday, offenders living in unincorporated Cook County must check in throughout the day at one of five Cook County Sheriff’s Office facilities, where they will re-register, take a new photo and view an educational video detailing their responsibilities, requirements and new regulations, the release said.
The release pointed out that year’s new Halloween check-in requirement is a direct result of state legislation, for which Sheriff Dart lobbied. Dart says it allows police departments to keep better track of sex offenders.
There are 65 registered sex offenders in unincorporated Cook County.
Dart said learned from the Jaycee Dugard case, that sometimes regular officer visits aren't enough. In that case, officers were visiting the home, but they never looked in the back yard, where Dugard was held against her will for years.
Dart said after he learned that, he requested aerial footage of sex offenders' homes, in conjunction with a detective walking the grounds of each residence for this year’s compliance check.
In the past couple weeks, sheriff’s officers have conducted aerial and ground checks on the residences of all registered sex offenders in unincorporated Cook County, Dart's office said. A detective from the Sheriff’s Office worked in unison with the officers in the helicopter to not just capture video and still photos, but also to walk each property while the helicopter hovered above. The Sheriff’s Office also offers some tips for a safe and fun Halloween:
- Make sure children are dressed safely in flame-retardant costumes and not wearing masks that obstruct vision
- Adults should accompany young trick-or-treaters
- Never go inside a home to accept treats, unless you know the person
- Target homes and blocks with which you are familiar for trick or treating
- Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them