TDOC officers conduct home visits on sex offenders as part of ‘Operation Blackout’

JACKSON, Tenn —  State officials are taking action this Halloween night to make sure kids and families are safe. WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News followed along with Probation and Parole Manager, Carol Mathes, as she conducted unannounced home visits on registered sex offenders.

The statewide initiative is to ensure registered sex offenders are following strict guidelines while trick-or-treaters are out and about.

Before hitting the streets, the Jackson parole team participated in a briefing.

“Communication is key because communication leads to safety,” Mathes said.

By 6 p.m. on Halloween night, registered sex offenders from across the state were expected to be at home.

“Some offenders have been approved to be out maybe due to work and then they have to be back at a specific time,” Mathes said.

More than 3,100 offenders received a knock at the door from October 21 to November 1, as part of ‘Operation Blackout’.

“Letting them know that we’re there to make sure they abide by the restrictions and the rules that they’ve agreed to,” Mathes said.

Some of the rules offenders must follow include: keeping porch lights off, not opening doors to trick-or-treaters, offenders are not allowed to dress in costumes, and must only open doors for law enforcement. The Jackson parole team covers several counties across west Tennessee.

“7 teams out we’re going to be in the Haywood-Tipton area, Fayette, Hardeman, McNairy, Chester and here in Madison County,” Mathes said.

Mathes said her team made 70 to 75 stops in those counties, but across the state, officers hit at least 2,000 homes on Halloween night. The statewide sweep is to provide children and families with a safe day of trick or treating.

“Just know when we’re in your community just make sure if you have any questions let us know if not then we will be checking and keep going,” Mathes said.

Just because TDOC officers are performing checks during the holiday does not mean this is the only time offenders can expect a visit. New statistics released from TDOC state the ‘Operation Blackout’ pre-Halloween check yielded in 21 arrests statewide.

In the Jackson area, two offenders were arrested for violating the sex offender registry by having a minor in the home. According to TDOC officials registered sex offenders are required to stay in their homes from 6 p.m. Halloween night until 6 a.m. on November 1.

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