(WTVM) - Hundreds of sex offenders live in the Chattahoochee Valley and on Halloween night local authorities took steps to have as many of them accounted for as possible.
Statistics show a higher number of registered sex offenders are living in Columbus compared to the national average. With more than 600 living in the Chattahoochee Valley, local officials are doing all they can to keep an eye on predators and their prey.
"It's just something to keep them off the streets to make sure we know where they are when most of the children in Muscogee County are going to be out in the streets," State Board of Pardons and Paroles Chief Parole Officer, Columbus, Jody Dillard said.
Between five to nine pm on Halloween night, sex offenders on parole and some volunteer sex offenders were gathered in one location.
"21 of our sex offenders who live in Muscogee County will be coming down to the Columbus Day Reporting Center, in addition to the the probationers," Dillard said. Authorities will screen participants for drugs and alcohol and inform them of current sex offender laws. Across the river in Russell County, auauthoritieslso take steps to make Halloween a little safer.
"We've got close to sixty people here tonight," Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said.
It's the fourth year Taylor has had the sex offender round up at the courthouse on Broad Street.
He says the event gives him peace of mind.
"I have two kids and when I send to a house to trick or treat, I want a sense of security that they're not going to walk up to a sex offender's house or a sex offenders not going to be walking in the crowd, snatch a kid and the next thing we know we've got a child a abducted," Taylor said.
Sheriff Taylor says they will also conduct drug and alcohol screenings and update participants on current sex offender laws.
Convicted sex offenders are also under curfews until tomorrow morning.
Compliance sweeps, where officers visit and sometimes search their homes, were be conducted throughout the evening.
For the big kids heading out to celebrate authorities are suggesting a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Don't drink and drive. You don't want an night of nightmares to last the rest of your life if you get a DUI. Take a cab or designate a sober driver.
- Make sure your costume doesn't impair your driving.
- Stay out of the street and use sidewalks. Pedestrians are most at risk of getting hurt on Halloween night.
Officials report they will also increase patrols throughout the night.