Cass County deputies conduct sex offender operation as Missouri modifies its registry

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CASS COUNTY, Mo. – Deputies with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office spent their Tuesday checking in on registered sex offenders.

Deputies conducted compliance checks, called “Operation Aware” at the homes of all 167 registered sex offenders living in the county. The eight-hour operation was a chance for sex offenders to verify that the information the sheriff’s office has on file is correct.

“Some of these people exposed themselves at the Lake of the Ozarks and, unfortunately, have to register,” Detective Corporal Jason Heffernan said. “Then you have the ones who, unfortunately, have kidnapped children and did bad things to them. Those are the one’s we’re trying to make sure their information is correct.”

Nearly 60 deputies participated in the operation. It concluded around 11:00 p.m., the sheriff’s office says a preliminary review shows the following results:

78 Compliant
39 Non-Compliant (minor violations)
22 Referred for follow-up investigations (criminal violations)
24 Offenders Not Contacted
3 Determined to be Homeless

“We’re (checking for) the basic photo ID on an offender, checking the address, license plates in the driveway, that basic standard stuff,” Sheriff Jeff Weber said.

The county-wide operation coincided with a new Missouri statute that modifies the state’s sex offender registry system.

“This is to get them into the new routine of what’s going on, not only with the change in the statute but what we’re doing here in the office,” Weber said.

The new law, which went into effect August 28 and aligns with the federal system, creates a three-tiered system. Offenders with less serious convictions could ask the courts to take them off the registry after 10 years. A two-tiered offender could be off the list in 25 years. Offenders convicted of the worst offenses will remain on the list indefinitely.

“What it should do in the end is authenticate what is and is not a violation so that there is no question,” Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Butler said.

Butler supports the new system. He said an operation like Tuesday’s is beneficial and creates awareness for both sex offenders and the communities they live in.

“There’s awareness to the offenders that they need to make sure they are complying and there’s an awareness to the public that law enforcement is on the offensive,” Butler said.

Deputies hung yellow information cards on the doors of neighbors living near sex offenders. To find out if you live near a sex offender in Missouri, click here. Kansas residents can find similar information, here.

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