CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - Trick-or-treaters won't be the only ones out in full force on Halloween night because the Tennessee Department of Correction
is teaming up with local cops and US Marshals to ensure convicted sex offenders stay indoors.
It's called ' Operation Blackout
'; an effort to protect Tennessee children on Halloween night from sex offenders. That means a heavy presence of state, local and federal law enforcement in various communities.
"Halloween is one of those nights every year that children are out roaming the streets and access to potential victims is great," said TDOC probation and parole manager Elizabeth Hammond.
The Tennessee Department of Correction created guidelines that all registered sex offenders must obey on Halloween night. Under those rules, all sex offenders must;
- Stay indoors between 6 PM and 6AM.
- Keep porch lights off.
- Not open doors for trick-or-treaters.
- Not display fall decorations
- Not wear costumes or dress in disguise.
Hammond said most offenders were already warned about the guidelines and consequences of breaking those guidelines prior to the last week of October.
Authorities will make random stops at homes of convicted sex offenders to make sure they are being compliant. Any offender caught breaking the rules could face additional charges for probation or parole violations.
Hammond said last year there were two confirmed minor violations of the rules but she was not aware of any major violations in recent years.
"I don't know of any specific cases but I don't ever want there to be a case under my watch," Hammond said.
In states like Florida, avoiding the homes of sex offenders can be a little easier since sex offenders are required to post signs on their property that warns the public about their criminal conviction.
"Tennessee does not have that. It actually puts it upon the citizens to check the online registry so it does make it a little bit challenging if you're not aware of what's in your neighborhood," Hammond said.
She's encouraging all parents to take it upon themselves to review the online sex offender registry
so they know which homes their children should avoid on Halloween night.