By Sandy . . . As far as I can determine, prior to 2003 there were no articles linking persons on the registry with Halloween. Then, in 2003, from Bryan, Texas, Google finds this sole article: “Halloween can be a tempting time for sex offenders.” The headline comes from a quote by the county senior community supervision officer and is made with not an iota of evidence. His inflammatory rhetoric continues, “ ‘It’s very important that we go and make these checks on sex offenders. This would be a perfect night to be tempted . . . It’s like putting a bunch of minnows in a pond with piranhas. It’s just not good.’ ”
And so it begins. Fast forward to 2020 and try to count the articles linking registrants with Halloween. Patch alone is approaching a thousand.
And now, today, November 18, 2020 we have this: “Operation Turkey [Sweep] keeps sex offenders in check.” The story reports, “In Operation Turkey Sweep, West Virginia State Police and the U.S. Marshals visited 100 registered sex offenders in Raleigh County without warning.”
Is this the beginning of a new danger? Are persons with prior sexual convictions somehow a threat to public safety on Thanksgiving? How many years and how many articles will it take to make it so?
We are accustomed to those Halloween sweeps involving 20, 30, 50 officers from city, county, and state law enforcement and often also federal marshals. Operation Turkey Sweep involved the West Virginia State Police and U.S. Marshals. We are not told how many actual officers participated.
These operations cost a great deal of money. Special squads and forces are formed just for the purpose of surprise raids on the homes of registrants. Is this an example of law enforcement having excessive budgets, so excessive that they can create these special forces within departments, forces whose primary purpose is to conduct raids on a group of people who are already the most closely scrutinized and monitored and controlled of any other category of people in the country?
What will be next? Santa filling his sleigh with registrants? Cupid’s arrows aiming for the hearts of those on the registry? “Flagging” the homes of registrants on the Fourth of July?
If things stay the same, what will be next?
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.