District Attorney announces county-wide sex offender compliance check
Ten fugitive sex offenders are now in custody as a result of Operation AWARE, a two-month collaborative compliance check of registered sex offenders in Delaware County.
“Delaware County residents can now rest assured that registered sex offenders are exactly where they say they are,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “And for those who are not, this should come as a warning that we will find you.”
Operation AWARE, Adam Walsh Residency Enforcement Act, is a collaborative effort to check registered sex offenders and roundup non-compliant sex offenders in Delaware County. Leading the operation was the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office and Criminal Investigation Division (CID), Delaware County Adult Probation and Parole, Pennsylvania State Police and the United States Marshals.
As part of joint law enforcement operation, the focus of the operation was to ensure compliance of the 462 registered sex offenders in Delaware County. A second focus was to capture absconded and non-compliant offenders along with the most wanted offenders identified by the Pennsylvania State Police Megan's Law Unit.
Sex offenders are required under Megan’s Law to register in the city and county where they reside and have strict guidelines to follow after being convicted. Megan's Law also requires the State Police to create and maintain a registry of persons who reside, work, or attend school in the Commonwealth and who have either been convicted of, entered a plea of guilty to, or adjudicated delinquent of certain sexual offenses.
With the first operational meeting taking place over the summer, the first check started just before the start of the new school year. “While compliance checks have always been a standard procedure, we decided to step up our efforts and conduct a county-wide check just before the start of the new school year,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan. “We want to know exactly where these registered sex offenders are living and that they are compliant with state law.”
Led by Sergeant Jack Kelly, the Operation AWARE task force broke into teams to cover the most ground possible. Going door-to-door, detectives and parole officers verified that all the registered offenders were up-to-date and in accordance with the Megan’s Law requirements. Checks were carried out from the early morning to late in the day.
According to CID Chief Joseph Ryan, the operation comprised a verification of 100% of registered offenders in Delaware County.
“The combined effort ensured the whereabouts of all registered offenders and took potentially dangerous non-compliant offenders off the streets,” said Chief Ryan. “Crimes ranged from rape, engagement of minor and other forms of sexual offense.”
This compliance check comes just before the Dec. 20 implementation of the Adam Walsh Act. Passed by Congress in 2006, the Adam Walsh Residency Enforcement Act has created a more comprehensive, nationwide system to track sex offenders.
In furtherance of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the United States Marshals Service assists jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who fail to comply with their sex offender registration requirements.
“As the lead agency responsible for investigating violations the law, we were eager to take part in this proactive initiative to find and arrest non-compliant offenders in Delaware County,” said John Patrignani, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal. “Our investigative network and capabilities allow for the unique ability to track and apprehend any fugitive who attempts to evade police capture, anywhere in the country, on very short notice.”
The operation was made possible through funding from the U.S. Marshals Service, who also assisted in capturing fugitive offenders.
“Knowing whether your neighbor is a registered sexual offender could be a significant factor in protecting yourself and your family from recidivist acts by registered sexual offenders,” said District Attorney Whelan.
Information about registered sexual offenders is available to the public through the Megan’s Law website. Residents are encouraged to check the website to find who is residing in their neighborhoods at www.pameganslaw.state.pa.us.
If you suspect that an offender listed on the Pennsylvania State Police Megan’s Law website is in violation of the law or any information on the website is out-dated or incorrect, please contact the Pennsylvania State Police toll free at 1-866-771-3170 or Delaware County Detectives at 610-891-4700. All information will remain confidential.