JAY — Law enforcement officers knocked on doors of known sex offenders Wednesday to make sure they were in compliance with a recent Oklahoma law.
“There are 107 registered sex offenders in Delaware County,” said Dan Price, Delaware County district attorney investigator, who organized the daylong compliance check. “We were looking to see if they were living with children.”
State law prohibits a registered sex offender from residing within 2,000 feet of a school, playground, park, licensed child care facility or child-related facility. A new section of the law that went into effect in November makes it unlawful for a sex offender to live with a minor child, Price said.
Law enforcement officers from seven state and county agencies covered more than 700 square miles in Wednesday's effort.
Price said 25 of the 107 sex offenders are under supervision. The youngest sex offender in Delaware County is 22 and the oldest is 72, he said.
In 2005, a sex offender compliance program was implemented in Ottawa and Delaware counties at the direction of District Attorney Eddie Wyant.
“He saw the need and it has paid off,” Price said.
When Price started checking on sex offenders, he went to nine houses and found only one person was where he should be.
“People had moved and left no forwarding addresses,” Price said.
Price said high concentrations of sex offenders are in the southeast section of the county near the Arkansas state line.
No nonrelated children were found living with sex offenders Wednesday. Some sex offenders were not home and follow-up visits will be made to ensure they are complying with the law, he said.
Children can be in the residence if the juvenile is the sex offender's child or grandchild and not the victim, Price said.
“The law is still not perfect,” Price said. “We cannot tell a sex offender he can't be with his child, but the sex offender cannot be with his child if the child is his victim.”
One sex offender visited by Price said he lived with his two biological daughters, ages 8 and 9.
“He said it (conviction) happened 20 years ago with his stepdaughters,” Price said. “You can't take his kids away if they are not the victim.”
The situation is frustrating, he said.
“There are generations and family circles of sex offenders,” Price said. “There are also women sex offenders, but those are mostly made up of an adult woman with an older teenage boy.”
The county was divided into nine regions among 12 investigators from the Delaware and Ottawa County district attorney's offices, Grand River Dam Authority, Delaware and Ottawa County Drug Task Force, Grove Police Department and the Jay Police Department.