Tulsa Police Cracking Down On Missing Sex Offenders
TULSA, Oklahoma - The search is on for sex offenders living in Tulsa illegally. The state has lost contact with more than 800 of them and about 200 of those are in Tulsa, and no one knows where they're living.
There are 422 registered sex offenders in Tulsa, and probably another 200 who didn't register and one officer to keep track of them all. He can't even keep up with the tips that come in, let alone, do random address checks. But, thanks to grant money from the Attorney General's office, that is exactly what officers are doing now.
Sergeant John Adams, with the Tulsa Police Department said there are folders full of tips. They've piled up over the past couple of years because there are not enough officers, or time, to work them. They try to figure out which ones are the most violent and work those.
"But that doesn't mean he's not going to go from exposing himself, to grabbing a kid, you don't know. But unfortunately those are all low priority and we haven't touched those for years," Adams said.
But, a grant from the Attorney General's office is paying overtime for two, two-person teams to follow up not only on the tips, but, also to go through the list of the city's 422 registered sex offenders.
They are supposed to check to see if they're actually living where they say they are. That's something that, shockingly, hasn't been done on a full scale since 2006.
"It's a false sense of security. They think the registry is out there and it's current. No, it's not," Adams said.
The operation started January 15th and has already been successful. They've arrested 27 people for either failing to register as a sex offender or a violent offender, or for not living where they claim.
Adams said part of the problem is 80 percent of the city is off limits to sex offenders. He said legislators thought if the sex offenders had no place to live, they would leave, but, instead, they stay put, and never register.
Adams said the word is getting out that TPD is now tracking them down, so more offenders are coming in to register and avoid arrest. Failing to register as a sex offender or violent offender is a felony. If you claim an offender is living with you and they're really not, you too could be arrested for a felony.
The grant is month by month and Adams said when it runs out, checking on sex offenders will once again stop.