BECKLEY, WV (LOOTPRESS) – At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, November 18, the West Virginia State Police and U.S. Marshals held a press conference at the West Virginia State Police Troop 6 Headquarters at 105 Pinecrest Drive in Beckley to discuss the completion of a routine sex offender compliance check that resulted in 23 violations from 7 offenders.
This compliance check, also known as Operation Turkey Sweep, is part of a routine check that the West Virginia State Police Department completes at least once a year.
According to Michael Baylous, U.S. Marshal of the Southern District of West Virginia, these checks are able to be conducted because of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act that was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006.
The act mandates that sex offenders update their information on the state’s registry, which the state is required to share with the public.
Corporal Robert Marsh of the West Virginia State Police called Operation Turkey Sweep a success and thanked the U.S. Marshals for their assistance with the operation before breaking down the statistics of the compliance check.
Marsh shared that, by law, sex offenders are required to verify information such as where they are employed, where they are living or any other addresses, PO Boxes, vehicles, social media accounts, or email addresses that they may have. Sex offenders have 10 days to register any changes made and failure to do so results in a violation.
Prior to the check, the West Virginia State Police made a list of violation attempts that needed to be completed.
“We verified all the information they provided us with and went through and looked at what verification needed to be done and what was about to expire.”
Over three days, the West Virginia State Police and U.S. Marshals spent roughly 200-man hours verifying this information.
Out of 100 verification attempts, 93 offenders were verified, 23 new violations were found, five arrests were made, seven criminal investigations were initiated and there are five potential federal cases, according to Marsh.
The State Police will not be releasing any information on the individuals with violations at this time, but the ones found to be in violation of the registry will face jail time.
“You look at those numbers and wonder if it’s a success,” Baylous shared. “What we’d like to see are no arrests and no violations.”
Baylous continued, stating that although that sounds strange, no violations mean that offenders are following the law.
“That’s how it should be. We found those that violated the law, but we would like to see no violations.”
Although Operation Turkey Sweep has been completed, Baylous says it’s likely that more arrests and more investigations will come from the work conducted this week.
“We really aren’t finished yet. We will be talking with State Police and other agencies in Southern West Virginia…and are planning other sweeps across Southern West Virginia.
Both Baylous and Marsh agreed that Operation Turkey Sweep was a large success due to the cooperation between the agencies.
“We have a great working relationship with law enforcement across the state,” Baylous shared.
“Work here in West Virginia, every agency is so small so its difficult for us to do an operation with just one agency. When we all come together and work together and do what we do best, each piece of the puzzles fits and that’s when we see more success.”
When asked if the community is safer following the compliance check, Marsh said that he thinks the State Police’s attention to the issue helps put the community at ease.
“They know we are watching. They know we are out looking.”
Baylous agreed that the West Virginia State Police is excellent in keeping track of sex offenders but still encouraged community members to visit the state’s sex offender registry at www.wvsp.gov.
“Use the tools that are there. Be careful, make wise decisions where you let children wander and be cautious.”
There are currently 300 registered sex offenders in Raleigh County.