KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway is sounding the alarm that your children might not be safe from sex predators.
Galloway did an audit of registered sex offenders who are not in compliance in Missouri and found that Jackson County has the highest percentage of non-compliant sex offenders.
That means if law enforcement doesn’t know where they are, neither do you.
Statewide, more than 1,200 registered sex offenders are unaccounted for, and 800 of them are Tier Three, the worst of the worst -- people convicted of rape, sodomy and child molestation.
When a person is convicted of a sex offense, they must register with local law enforcement. They have to provide their name, address and other information, which is made public through a database and website maintained by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
It's a website accessible to the public, so you can know where sex offenders are and make decisions that will keep your family safe.
“So what our audit found is that law enforcement must do more to hold these predators accountable for following the law,” Galloway said at a news conference Monday. “Here in Jackson County, the numbers are especially concerning.”
The audit was done in February and May 2018, just before Darryl Forte took over as Jackson County sheriff.
The new sheriff was also alarmed at the number of missing registered sex offenders.
He did something about it Aug. 28 when he put a new policy in place to find the 456 registered sex offenders whose whereabouts were unknown. So far, the agency has located about 30 and continue to chip away at the problem he inherited.
“We just updated the sex offender policy. It hadn’t been updated since 1997,” Forte said. “I sum it up as lack of leadership. And again, I want to stress we have some great people here. They just need some leadership. They need some guidance.”
What Forte is doing to correct the problem has been noticed in Jefferson City.
“I do know here in Jackson County the sheriff has acknowledged this issue,” Galloway said. “There is a new sheriff who has acknowledged this issue, and I am glad he is making this a priority. I would like to see that across the state.”
Of the more than 1,200 missing sex offenders statewide, warrants have not been issued for 91 percent of them.
That means that if someone who had been registered in Jackson County gets pulled over in Clay County, the officer would never know that person is wanted for non-compliance. Those sex offenders are essentially ghosts.