A Smith County Plan Helps Keep Kids Safe From Sex Offenders On Halloween Night - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/22/07-Tyler

A Smith County Plan Helps Keep Kids Safe From Sex Offenders On Halloween Night

With just a few more days before Halloween, for some, finding the perfect costume has been priority one.

But for others, candy and costumes is the least of their worries.  

Lynn Nelson said she received a post card in the mail not too long ago, announcing that a sex offender moved into her neighborhood. 

Nelson, like many parents, is hoping her family can just have a fun night this Halloween, without worrying about sex offenders, or child predators when they hit the streets.  

"It's getting scarier everyday," she said.   "With these kids going to school, they go to stores--everyday you pick up the paper and it's preachers, and it's people that you're supposed to trust."

Nelson said she only trick-or-treats at doors where she knows the people who answer.  She said she is afraid of going anywhere else.

There are more than 320 registered sex offenders in Smith, Gregg, and Cherokee Counties combined.  But that number does not include the offenders registered to different police departments in cities within those counties. 

Longview and Tyler--two of the largest cities in East Texas--together have more than 200 registered offenders within their city limits--111 and 88, respectively. 

The increasing number of offenders has prompted some county officials to take action.  

"What we wanted to do was come up with something that we could do here," said Gerald Hayden, director of the Smith County Community Supervision Department.  Smith County Adult Probation workers will hit the streets for the first time on Halloween night, making sure offenders under their supervision are obeying the law.  

Hayden said field officers will be checking on registered offenders, going to their houses and places of work.

Hayden hopes their canvassing will help put parents' worries at ease, and make a sugar rush the only thing they have to worry about.

Layron Livingston, Reporting. llivingston@kltv.com

 

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