HOUSTON - The Houston Police Department's sex offender registration squad is hitting the streets in the days leading up to Halloween, working to make sure sex offenders follow the rules set out in their sentences.
"What people don't realize is all sex offenders don't have the same restrictions," explained HPD Sergeant Richard Callis.
Sergeant Callis said parents need to know that just because someone is a registered sex offender does not mean they're restricted from putting up Halloween decorations, or even handing out candy.
In fact, out of the more than 5,000 registered sex offenders living in Houston, only 1,200 to 1,500 are prohibited from decorating and greeting trick-or-treaters.
It all depends on the age of a sex offender's victim and whether that person is still on probation or parole.
For those sex offenders barred from decorating their homes for Halloween or handing out candy, parole and probation officers take the extra step of scheduling meetings and programs on that day to get sex offenders out of their homes while the kids are on the streets.
"There are sex offenders out here, we don't know what they're going to do, but that's our job to get here and try to find them," Sgt. Callis said.
Checking on the homes of registered sex offenders is work that police do year-round. It just gets more attention during this time of year because of all the children going door-to-door.
In fact, during the month of October, Houston police worked to knock on the door of all 5,000 registered sex offenders living in the city.
Those offenders are required to list their current address. If a sex offender lies about where they are living, they can go back to jail.
"(We) go by each house, make a visible appearance to show them that we're out there and we're searching, We're checking to see where they live at to make sure they're doing the right thing," explained Sgt. Callis.
On Halloween night, police officers throughout the Houston area will be watching over trick-or-treaters and keeping an eye on the homes of registered sex offenders. Even so, police said parents should always go with their kids and only visit homes of people they know.
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