SOUTH CHARLESTON — The West Virginia State Police (WVSP) is tasked with the responsibility of verifying information submitted by approximately 3500 sex offenders who are required to register with the Sex Offender Registry. This requires the allocation of much time and resources, but is an absolutely necessary function.
In January of this year, a new program was implemented and more than 1000 sex offenders across the State have had information verified. As a result, 171 arrests have been made due to false information being submitted by offenders. According to WVSP Office of Public Affairs Sgt. Michael Baylous, numerous other arrests will be pending as individuals are located and investigations are completed.
Baylous stated that the partnership between his department and the United States Marshal Service has proven to be invaluable. Furthermore, the increased compliance checks have been made entirely possible by federal grant money. Grant money allows troopers to work overtime hours, thereby freeing up the troopers working regularly scheduled shifts to perform other daily tasks such as criminal investigations, highway safety initiatives, and first responder duties.
“While we are making great strides in maintaining the sex offender registry, it is important to remember that the registry continues to grow each year,” remarked Baylous. “As such, it requires more time and resources to properly maintain it.”
“For example, over the past three years the registry has increased by over 400 offenders each year. In addition, over 1200 offenders are currently incarcerated and will need to be registered upon their release from prison.”
The public registry can be viewed at www.statepolice.wv.gov. Baylous asked to remind the public that this site is merely a tool, and says that the recent arrests confirm that sex offenders can’t always be trusted to provide accurate information to the registry. The public registry does have a unique feature which is worth mentioning; computer screen names and email addresses can be searched.
Keeping West Virginia’s children safe remains a top priority of WVSP Colonel Smithers, as well as their entire force od state troopers. Colonel Smithers believes that while law enforcement is making great progress in combating internet crimes against children, more can be done and emphasizes the importance of parents taking an active role in the lives of their children and asked to release the following statement:
“Children crave authority figures in their lives that create an environment of discipline and structure. Children are in dire need of parents who are willing to take an active role in their daily lives rather than simply being a friend or a buddy. Over the next week, the movie ‘Finding Faith’ will be shown in special screenings across the state of West Virginia. I encourage parents, children, churches, and community organizations to view this movie and have an open discussion about internet safety.”
Information regarding ‘Finding Faith’, including scheduled events, a movie trailer, and behind the scenes gallery featuring the West Virginia State Police can be viewed at www.findingfaithfilm.com.