Staying safe on Halloween: How to find and avoid sex offenders in your neighborhood

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sidewalks will be flooded with trick-or-treaters this week, and 8 On Your Side is reminding you of one way to keep your kids safe.

Under Florida law, “mandatory conditions of supervision for sex offenders were expanded to prohibit certain activities such as distributing candy at Halloween and visiting schools without prior approval of the probation officer.”

Parents are able to find out where sex offenders live in relation to their own neighborhoods using the Florida Department of Law Enforcement registry website.

You can check your neighborhood at this link, using the tutorial in the video above.

December 2018 report from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability shows that nearly 29,000 registered sex offenders and predators are now living in Florida, which is a 53 percent increase since 2005 when Florida’s legislators first ordered a review of the state’s tracking efforts of sex offenders.

Florida’s registry audit – which breaks down the main demographic of registered sex offenders in the state as white, middle-aged men – notes that 60 percent of the more than 73,000 sexual offenders and predators on Florida’s registry live in other states or have returned to incarceration.

More than 28,000 of the sex offenders on Florida’s registry live in Florida communities.

The report includes a county-by-county breakdown showing that urban counties had the highest overall number of sex offenders, while smaller, more rural counties had a higher concentration of sex offenders per capita.

Orange County, which is home to Orlando, had the highest total with 2,299 followed by Duval County in northeast Florida with 2,018 registered offenders.

However, in Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County had the highest amount of sexual offenders and sexual predators with a combined total of 1,823. Pinellas County had the second-highest amount followed by Polk County.

Early this week, a group of registered sex offenders in Butts County, Georgia, filed a class-action lawsuit against the sheriff’s office to stop it from putting signs in their yards warning residents not to trick-or-treat at the addresses ahead of Halloween.

The signs read: “NO TRICK-OR-TREAT AT THIS ADDRESS!! A COMMUNITY SAFETY MESSAGE FROM BUTTS COUNTY SHERIFF GARY LONG.”

A federal judge will rule on the lawsuit on Thursday.

Sheriff Gary Long responded in a Facebook post saying in part, “Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday, I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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