Thanks to an initiative involving 66 Georgia Sheriffs, including Seminole County Sheriff Heath Elliott, 42 sex offenders were arrested and 117 warrants were issued across the state from October 24 to October 31, 2022 for violations of state registration laws. In 2015, the first coordinated effort across the state was launched to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period. The coordinated initiative became known as Operation Watchful Eye. Due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, Georgia’s Sheriffs have made this an annual operation and recently conducted Operation Watchful Eye VII.
The Office of Sheriff is mandated by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school. Throughout the year, each sheriff’s office verifies addresses provided by registered sex offenders. While conducting residence verifications, deputies also assure additional registration requirements are being adhered to.
The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network, and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make our state safer. In numerous counties, deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Probation officers and Department of Community Supervision probation/parole officers worked together to verify sex offenders comply with the law.
Preliminary reporting by the 66 participating sheriff’s offices reveals 10,232 registered sex offenders, 366 predators and 329 homeless sex offenders are currently living in their counties. During the one week operation, 7,878 residence verifications were conducted, 64 new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, 79 warrants were issued for residency violations of the sex offender registry, nine new warrants were issued for violations of the sex offender registry law (other than residency violations), two warrants were issued for new sex offenses and 27 warrants were issued for other miscellaneous new charges. More importantly, it was discovered that 476 sex offenders had absconded from their last known address, which will require the sheriff to work with other supporting agencies and track these individuals down.
Remember, for the protection of your family and neighbors, visit your local sheriff’s office website or visit the http://gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-sex-offender-registry for more information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders in your community.
Seminole County has 39 registered sex offenders living in the county and an additional five working in Seminole County that live out-of-county. Two of the registered offenders are classified by the state’s Sex Offender Review Board as predators. One was transferred to prison this week and one is incarcerated in Seminole County jail that is registered in Gwinnett County.
During the past week, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office has verified that all offenders are living where they are registered, and verified employment status of those working in Seminole County. They did find five that had changed employment status and failed to report that change to the Sheriff’s Office. Those cases are being further investigated and warrants are possibly pending.
Residential and employment restrictions may apply and are not the same for everyone. Each case is different depending on the offense and/or conviction date, and whether or not the offender is still on probation.
In addition to visiting the state’s sex offender website listed above, citizens may visit the Sheriff’s Office website at www.seminoleso.com and follow the link for the sex offender registry. This website allows citizens to sign up for alerts to be notified when an offender moves close to them.
If you have any questions about those living in Seminole County, please contact the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office at 229-524-5115.