Operation Watchful Eye VIII
Thanks to an initiative involving 73 Georgia Sheriffs, 44 sex offenders were arrested and 234 warrants were issued across the state from October 30 – November 6, 2023 for violations of state registration laws. In 2015, the first coordinated effort across the state was launched to conduct residence verifications and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period. The coordinated initiative became known as Operation Watchful Eye. Due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, Georgia’s Sheriffs have made this an annual operation and recently conducted Operation Watchful Eye VIII.
The Office of Sheriff is mandated by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school. Throughout the year, each sheriff’s office verifies addresses provided by registered sex offenders. While conducting residence verifications, deputies also assure additional registration requirements are being adhered to.
The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network, and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make our state safer. In numerous counties, deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Probation officers and Department of Community Supervision probation/parole officers worked together to verify sex offenders comply with the law.
Preliminary reporting by the 73 participating sheriff’s offices reveals 12,092 registered sex offenders, 466 predators and 552 homeless sex offenders are currently living in their counties. During the one week operation, 9,232 residence verifications were conducted, 61 new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, 189 warrants were issued for residency violations of the sex offender registry, 15 new warrants were issued for violations of the sex offender registry law (other than residency violations), 3 warrants were issued for new sex offenses and 27 warrants were issued for other miscellaneous new charges. More importantly, it was discovered that 577 sex offenders had absconded from their last known address, which will require the sheriff to work with other supporting agencies and track these individuals down.
Remember, for the protection of your family and neighbors, visit your local sheriff’s office website or visit the http://gbi.georgia.gov/georgia-sex-offender-registry for more information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders in your community.