Per Missouri law being 589.400 RSMO the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of each county (typically the sheriff) is in charge of sex offender registrations.
At the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office my staff and I strive to remain current with registered offenders and any potential registration violations. We often receive tips from the public and many times those are very useful with registration violations, updates, or even investigations.
One requirement for sex offenders is not reside within 1,000 feet of a public or private school or child care facility and they must notify us within 7 days if one is built or opened per 566.147 RSMO. This statute is a bit confusing in that not everyone knows where a day care is. Based on training, the law, and speaking with our prosecutor, to enforce a criminal charge on a sex offender residing too close to a day care; that day care must be posted by some type of signage or display so that any member of the public would know there is a day care present at.
Recently we have had several violations of sex offenders moving within close proximity of a day care. Some of those day care locations have been posted and I have informed the offender to move or face prosecution or both. At least one moved to an area where no day care posting or display was present and a second day care was identified but also was not posted.
In the past we have sought out day care locations in Livingston County but we obviously did not learn of all day care locations. The day care is not required to be licensed by the state to trigger this statute.
Many of our registered sex offenders are 100% compliant and maintain accurate and timely registrations. A handful have shown a propensity to violate registration requirements over time and most if not all were arrested and prosecuted.
I have spoken with legislators in the past regarding sex offender registration laws as in my opinion there does need to be some change(s) made. We currently have a few people registered for misdemeanor convictions which were consensual in nature but reported to law enforcement for whatever reasons. Not that a crime did not take place, but a handful are minimal risk to re-offend and contribute to society.
Here is an example of a person that should be required to register but because of the current laws does not. A few years ago I learned of a violent felon about to be released from the Missouri Department of Corrections. The man had been convicted of 2nd degree murder and was about to be released upon completing his 30-year prison sentence. The allegations of that murder involved him kidnapping, brutally raping a lady, and then murdering her. He was initially charged with multiple crimes, including rape. The subject pled guilty to a plea bargain being the Murder 2nd degree while the state dismissed the other charges. Since his murder charge did not have any listing of the forcible rape or any sex offense, this man does not have to register as a sex offender! This kind of criminal is the very reason we should have the sex offender registration.
It was a difficult task to deal with but fortunately the violent felon did not move to Livingston County. Unfortunately wherever he now lives he could be across the street from a school, playground, day care, or any of us and we do now have the ability to know.
As long as I am your sheriff, we will continue to uphold the laws with registrations and lobby for positive change(s) to registration requirements. You as the public, parent, grandparent, foster parent, and citizen deserve the right to know.
Thank you for your past, present, and future support of the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Steve Cox