PART I: Is this U.S. law enforcement or the Schutzstaffel?
By Erik . . . After another challenging but insightful interaction with law enforcement, I would like to pose a question about increased U.S. Marshal activity regarding operational teams with local law enforcement. These teams aggressively check registry data for persons on the sex offender registry at their listed residences. There has been an uptick in activity here in Missouri along with more aggressive tactics. I would like to have a better understanding about what’s happening on the national level and also about the source material that they are using for their training.
For nearly the first three years of being released following my incarceration for a sexual offense, I was comforted by the fact that no one ever harassed me out where I live. I’m on a remote farm in a large, mostly rural county. That comfort was shattered a year ago when three large SUVs rolled up to the farmhouse and discharged three local deputies and three U.S. Marshals, all complete with weapons, tasers, and vests. They said calming words and assured me they were just there for a “compliance check” but then surrounded me, which sent my dogs into an absolute frenzy.
The first words out of my mouth were, “My parole officer used to come visit me for the same reason. She was by herself, just five feet one, and didn’t carry any weapons at all and yet felt perfectly safe. Why the SWAT team?” I said this with a grin hoping to inject a bit of levity into the situation. They were not having it. I was taken aback at how quickly the officers grew more aggressive after I asked a very basic question, but I soon learned that intimidation is the name of the game.
I won’t ramble on concerning this aspect as I worked with investigative journalist Steve Yoder after this incident, and he wrote an excellent piece about this practice.
Steve clearly outlines the “why,” and it is the same old story. Sex offender sweeps provide both money and outstanding publicity. In the minds of law enforcement, nothing demonstrates protecting the public more than arresting “sex offenders.” What he couldn’t garner from his interviews was information about the recent level of increased activity.
Thus, I decided that the best way to investigate this topic here in Missouri was to call the state sponsored therapists for registrants on probation or parole; this group definitely has their “ears to the ground.” I started with my old therapist, and she said right out of the gate that this has been all the chatter for weeks now. I asked if she thought this was a post-pandemic rebound and she said no, and that this was definitely an increase in activity with the marshals. I then started cold calling therapists across the state and got much the same thing.
Then in early February of this year, 2023, I got round two. I pulled up to my farm, and three police vehicles whipped up and followed me to the farmhouse. As before, they were armed for bear and surrounded me outside my car. My first thought was that I needed to video this encounter as I noticed last year that no one was wearing their bodycams. I pulled out my phone and managed to snap two still photos before I was told to put the phone away. I recognized the lead for the county sheriff with his clipboard and the lead for the marshals but none of the others.
The lead sheriff said, “Same deal as last year, Erik. What’s your home phone number.” I answered but then said, “I’m not on probation or parole, my registration is accurate, and I don’t have to answer any of these questions.” Again, my calm and accurate statement evoked rage from the officer. He stated that if I didn’t cooperate, he would arrest me on the spot for any little error on my registration. He went on, “And you’ve already lied to me, Erik. I asked for a home number, and you gave me one that’s nowhere on your registration. I can arrest you right now.”
Watch for Part II coming soon: The truth and nothing but?
Erik McInnis is the NARSOL state advocate for Missouri and also sits on the board of directors for Viewpoints, a non-profit housing organization for transitioning registrants.
One Thought to “U.S. Marshals conduct Blitzkrieg compliance checks on remote Missouri farm”
Missouri, in particular, Jackson County, is the worse jurisdiction to attempt to register. When the employee of the year is a Deputy in the offender registration unit and wrote the most tickets of all other deputies, and they were for “failure to register” , it was ridiculous. That is why I live in Kansas.