JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As thousands of kids gear up for their Halloween festivities, parents are encouraged to check the FDLE sex offender registry before hitting the streets to go trick-or-treating.
While the FDLE sex offender registry is a good source of information, a retired probation officer has a warning for parents that the registry shouldn’t be the only resource they are referencing to keep their kids safe.
Former probation officer Shirley Roberts said the threat of a child being sexually assaulted by a convicted predator still exists -- even if parents have reviewed a sex offender locator map.
For many years, Roberts monitored sex offenders and predators. She said parents should not solely rely on the sex offender locator map to protect their children because depending on when the map was updated, the location information of predators could be inaccurate.
Also, many predators and offenders are now listed as absconded, meaning law enforcement has no idea where to find them.
“A lot of them cut their ankle bracelets off, and they just disappear. And then move in with a family or a friend, and we know nothing about it,” Roberts said.
This means a convicted predator could potentially be a person opening the doors to unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. Roberts said those predators could present an illusion of being harmless to kids.
“These are educated people. These are nice people. These are trusting people. These are professional people. They are someplace. They’re just not telling you, the public,” Roberts said.
In September, the City of Jacksonville announced it will not enforce a law requiring sex offenders to post signs outside their homes on Halloween following a lawsuit from two registered sex offenders who were no longer on probation and said the law was unconstitutional.
Roberts issues another warning for parents ahead of Halloween:
“You do not allow your children to knock on anyone’s door without you being there. And if you get a bad feeling, that’s a red flag,” Roberts said.
Roberts said if parents want up-to-date information about predators in their neighborhood, it’s better to call the Department of Corrections probation offices in Jacksonville because it can provide more information.