With Halloween fast approaching, parents planning on taking their children trick or treating can perhaps rest a bit easier with the knowledge local police are taking extra precautions to create a safer experience.
According to St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Pat Yoes, on Halloween night the Sheriff’s Office increases its vigilance of registered sex offenders living in the parish with child safety in mind.
“Every residence in which a sex offender resides is checked by a Sheriff’s Office deputy at some point during the night of Halloween,” Yoes said. “Lifetime registration sex offenders, also known as Tier 3 offenders, are contacted face-to-face by a deputy and must sign a compliance form. Also, sex offenders who are on parole or probation are seen face-to-face and must sign a compliance form.”
There are 87 registered sex offenders living in St. Charles Parish, according to the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office website sex offender registry.
The site also has a breakdown of how many registered offenders live in each of the parish’s cities, including those in Boutte (12), Destrehan (9), Luling (10), Ama (4), Des Allemands (13), Killona (3), Montz (3), New Sarpy (1), Norco (3), Paradis (3), St. Rose (9) and Taft.
Yoes believes the checks in place are largely responsible for the fact that he hasn’t seen an issue concerning an offender arise on Halloween over his many years with the Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s probably due to the fact that we explain to the offenders ahead of time what we expect from them,” Yoes said.
In addition to the increased compliance checks, restrictions are in place to limit an offender’s potential contact with children. Distributing candy or gifts on Halloween and other public holidays to anyone under the age of 18 by sex offenders is prohibited, with conviction carrying a prison term of a minimum of six months and a maximum of four years.
Yoes added that sex offenders are encouraged to stay inside their residence during the peak hours of Halloween night from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m.
“While they are not required to stay home, they are advised not to participate in the festivities (given the restrictions in place),” Yoes said.
Yoes advised that families can also take safety precautions on their own. He encouraged parish residents to check the St. Charles Sheriff’s Office’s website sex offender registry for any addresses that a sex offender resides, and to avoid those houses.
“Also, if you know a sex offender resides there and is participating in the festivities contact the sheriff’s office we will have additional deputies out specifically to handle sex offender issues,” Yoes added.