SCP president writes for GOPUSA: US Marshals, Local Law Enforcement Get It Right On Child Protection
Now that President Obama and Congress are negotiating tough decisions on how best to balance our nation's finances, it is imperative that lawmakers recognize the need for law enforcement to have the funding necessary to protect our children.
Take, for example, the amazing work the U.S. Marshals Service is doing: they always get their man. Since 2006, after the passage of the Adam Walsh Act, the Marshals Service has dragged an astonishing number of fugitive sex offenders from swamps, dumpsters and other sordid hideouts. The Marshals Service has initiated over 7,900 sex offender investigations, according to Stacia Hylton's testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's recent hearing on reauthorization of the Adam Walsh Act. This crucial Act strengthens nationwide standards for sex offender registration, and makes the failure to register with authorities a federal crime, which is why the Marshals Service is now rounding up fugitive sex offenders. Hylton, the new director of the Marshals Service, told Committee members that 1,448 warrants have been issued for federal registration violations while 1,203 warrants have been issued for other registration violations; 1,124 Adam Walsh Act fugitives have been captured. In all, the "fugitive hunters" of the Department of Justice have arrested 43,709 fugitive sex offenders since the law's inception in 2006.
Even though the Marshals Service did not receive additional funding to carry out the mandate until 2008-two years after the Act named the Marshals Service as the lead federal investigating agency-the Marshals still made capturing sex offenders their priority from the start.
In October 2006, the Marshals Service conducted Operation FALCON III (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) in partnership with hundred of state and local law enforcement entities. In one week, they apprehended over 1,600 sex offenders nationwide. They safely recovered one missing child and arrested a sex offender while he was babysitting three young children. The Marshals went on to conduct similar FALCON operations in 2007, 2008 and 2009, during which 5,677 sex offenders were arrested.
I had the opportunity to attend a press conference in Boston during FALCON's 2009 operation, in which the Marshals Service announced that 558 arrests had been made and 910 warrants cleared in Massachusetts from June 1 - 30. That effort resulted in one of the area's largest-ever fugitive initiatives, focusing on capturing individuals wanted on felony charges, including sexual predators and fugitives wanted for crimes of violence. Locally, Operation FALCON consisted of approximately 120 federal, state and local law enforcement officers, from 29 different agencies, working together throughout the month-long period.
Florida is another state where the U. S. Marshals Service is a pillar of community safety.
Barry Golden, an investigator with the U.S.M.S., invited me to visit the Miami Sexual Crimes Bureau within the Miami-Dade Police Department last September. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to spend a day with law enforcement and learn first hand about the registration process for sex offenders. These officers mean business.
These men and women will tell you any day of the week that next to an active shooter-that's 'cop speak' for a violent shooter who is feared to strike again in the near future-sex offenders who fail to register or who provide inaccurate information to authorities are right at the top of the "most wanted" list as a serious threat to the public, particularly children. Of course, investigations prioritize the "worst of the worst."
On the particular day I spent at the Sexual Crimes Bureau I witnessed the registration of two sex offenders, one of whom was a convicted child sex offender. The registration process included questions to verify the offender's identity, such as name, date of birth, probation officer's name, and so on. The officer also asked about employment and electronic identifiers like email addresses. You could sense the offenders' frustration as they fielded questions that they felt to be unnecessary or inconvenient. Inconvenience seems like a strange consideration for men who brutally victimized a young child and a woman.
The questions proceeded, and seemed routine until each offender was asked if he owned a boat. The officer later explained to me that, to no one's surprise, sexual predators are savvy when it comes to luring children, and a boat can be enticing to an unsuspecting child. Consequently, including boat ownership as part of the registration process, law enforcement officials can be much better equipped when a child goes missing.
In the end, the two offenders were compliant at best. So the officer entered their finger prints, had them sign a form and told them to come back in March.
This experience reminded me of Director Hylton's remarks to Congress in which she said over 43,000 fugitive sex offenders have been arrested since the passage of the Adam Walsh Act. During the hearing, I was surrounded by surviving parents whose children were the victims of sexual predators. To many people, that number is just a statistic. To surviving parents, that number represents the countless children, who, thanks to the Adam Walsh Act, are sleeping soundly in their beds at night.
I was recently asked what advice I would offer to convicted sexual offenders, considering the enforcement and funding of the Adam Walsh Act. For any sexual predator reading this article, I offer three simple tips: (1) When arriving in a new state, register immediately with local authorities; (2) Obey registration requirements; (3) If you cannot comply with tips #1 or #2, know that the U.S. Marshals Service and local law enforcement agencies will find you and will send you to jail.