(WBIR - Campbell County) Thursday morning law enforcement in five counties arrested 45 registered sex offenders during an early morning round-up of those in violation of the TBI registry rules.
Dozens of detectives set out on the surprise mission at 5:30 a.m. in Campbell County. Research for the operation started around 10 days ago when authorities visited all 222 registered sex offenders in Fentress, Union, Claiborne, Campbell, and Scott Counties.
Those visits were conducted to ensure offenders were living at their registered addresses, didn't have any children in their home, and that their residence was more than 1,000 feet from schools, public parks, child care facilities, playgrounds, recreation centers, and public athletic fields.
Detective Freddie White with the Campbell County Sheriff's Office helped check 69 offenders registered in the county.
"There were 25 of them in violation of the sex offender registry so they issued warrants for those people's arrests. That's what we're doing this morning is picking them up," said White.
With 45 warrants served out of 222 interviewed, that amounts to more than 20 percent of all registered sex offenders in the five counties that make up the 8th Judicial District were not complying with registry laws.
Eleven of the arrests were felony warrants for noncompliance with the law. Most were for lesser violations.
WBIR rode with a three-person crew from the Campbell County Sheriff's Office to observe five of the arrests. In each case, the violation was for failing to possess the required form of photo identification. Each of those arrests were made with a pre-set bond of $3,500.
District Attorney Lori Phillips-Jones worked in conjunction with the agencies for what she branded "Operation Child Abuse Prevention." Phillips-Jones said a wide variety of convictions landed those arrested Thursday on the sex offender registry.
"There's everything from rape of a child to aggravated sexual battery. Statutory rape sometimes require registration. We want to protect all of the kids in our communities. One way is checking up on sex offenders and making sure they're doing what they're required to do under the law," said Phillips-Jones. "Sometimes violators move and they fail to change their address. That can be a violation. A residence that's 1,000 feet of a school, playground, or daycare facility can mean those persons can be out of compliance."
Detectives who made the arrests reminded the offenders that the rules are stated in a contract they signed during registration.
Phillips-Jones said the decision was made to hold the operation during April because this is Child Abuse Awareness Month.
"This operation not only served to protect the children in our communities but also worked to solidify relationships between city and county law enforcers, 911, and probation department. Everyone came together so well as a team, all the agencies need to be commended for working towards increased public safety and safer communities for our children," said District Attorney Lori Phillips-Jones.