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DIGGING DEEPER: New system in place to track sex offenders

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TUCSON (KVOA) - There are over 800 registered sex offenders in Pima County.

By law, the Pima County Sheriff's Department must do compliance checks. But with only a handful of detectives to do it, it became overwhelming until now.

The new method of checking on sex offenders started in October. It's already been successful, according to detectives and sheriff's officials.

Now patrol deputies go out daily to conduct compliance checks.

Field training officer Jacqueline Deen and deputy Amy Martinez work patrol in the San Xavier District.  

On this day, they are conducting compliance checks on registered sex offenders.  

They go to the address where a level two offender lives.  

The deputies found where he is living and they asked him questions that range from receiving mail at that address to where he works to what vehicle he drives.

He answered all the questions and even gave them his license and vehicle registration.

Once all the questions are asked and a form is filled out, there's an additional form that needs to be completed.  

It is one the U.S. Marshals asked for their help with.  It's called the IMF, or International Megan's Law Form - a federal law.  It is named after a little 7-year-old girl from New Jersey who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a sex offender living in the neighborhood.  

Deen said the form lets law enforcement know where these sex offenders are. If they are leaving the country, they must inform authorities 21 days prior to them leaving.  

If the sex offender is not where his registration form says he or she is supposed to be, the case gets turned over to the SORT unit, or Sex Offender Registration Tracking unit. 

Det. Santiago Hernandez is assigned to that unit and he will look for the sex offender. Once he finds them, they are arrested.  

He told the Digging Deeper Team now more than ever it's important to know where they are.  

"Safety for the community," he said. "You've got kids out there, especially with Covid you've got kids who aren't in school a lot of them at home on the streets playing."

He added a lot of the sex offenders don't work because people won't hire them so it's necessary to keep track of them.

He also said by patrol deputies conducting the compliance checks they get to know where sex offenders are living and it makes the community safer.

Hernandez said since the new system was put into play, they have already conducted 400 compliance checks and arrested 20 individuals all in an effort to keep the community safe.

For more information, visit azdps.gov or call 602-255-0611.

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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