Douglas County detectives go door-to-door to make sure sex offenders live where they're registered

1 sex offender in violation of 37 contacted

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. - Detectives went door-to-door Wednesday night, in a surprise compliance check to verify the location of sex offenders in Douglas County.

"Operation Shepherd" was a joint effort with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Castle Rock Police, Parker Police and U.S. Marshals.

"Unfortunately, we don't have the man power to do multiple checks throughout the year," said Janell McDonald, the administrative specialist for sex offender registration at the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. "That's the purpose (of the operation), to confirm that they are living where they've reported that they are living."

According to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, there are 160 registered sex offenders in the unincorporated section of the county, including Highlands Ranch.

During Operation Shepherd, 71 of those sex offenders were checked on. About 50 officers were out checking on sex offenders, according to Lt. Kevin Duffy.

As of 8:30 p.m., 37 of them had been contacted and one was found out of compliance.

7NEWS rode-along with undercover Det. Chris Stadler as he checked on four sex offenders.

"We want people to feel safe. We want them to know that we're doing our jobs," said Stadler.

Our compliance checks were near the area of Highlands Ranch Parkway and Wildcat Reserve.

"A lot of people think, you know, run down dingy motel, not a nice suburban area," said Stadler. "There are sex offenders that live in Castle Pines."

Two of the four sex offenders who Stadler checked on were at home and in compliance. No one answered at a third home and a fourth was out of town according to the person who answered the door.

"Is there anything wrong with being out of town?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"Nope, they're allowed to have lives just like us," said Stadler.

When Stadler made contact with one of the sex offenders, he verified that his information was up-to-date. That included his phone number, email address, employment and vehicle information.

"I still have (you down with) a '99 Toyota Rav4," Stadler said to one sex offender.

"No, I don't have that car anymore," said the sex offender.

"Don't have that anymore? What kind of vehicle are you driving now?" said Stadler.

That information is important because it gets uploaded into a searchable database known as SOTAR.

"This way it makes it easier, that none of them fall through the cracks; that we can keep track of them," said McDonald.

Law enforcement using SOTAR are able to deep searches on a sex offender.

"Employment information, telephone numbers, private information," said McDonald.

That comes in handy when detectives are investigating a crime and suspect a sex offender. Detectives can narrow the search by age, location and even the make and model of their vehicle. For example, a search of a 30-to-40 year old white male, who owns a white pickup truck, returned four possible sex offenders in Douglas County.

"In the last six months, we've used the database on nine different cases," said Duffy.

Anyone can search the SOTAR sex offender database by clicking on this link:

You can type in your address and search for sex offenders in a specific radius around your home.

The information you can access is limited to the basics about the sex offender and their crime.

"Name and picture, address, conviction (and) physical description," said McDonald.

There are 57 law enforcement agencies that participate in SOTAR, including 21 Sheriff's Offices and 36 Police Departments, including Denver Police, Aurora Police, Greeley Police, Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

The 57 law enforcement agencies account for 42 percent of all sex offenders in Colorado.

Sex offenders have to register within five business days with their new jurisdiction when they move. They do not have to de-register with their previous jurisdiction. So, if detectives doing a sex offender checkup find that they no longer live where they were listed, it does not automatically mean that sex offender is in violation. The detective has to do more investigation to see if they have registered in a new jurisdiction or if they are in violation.

"If I can't catch up with them after four or five attempts, yeah, we'll figure something's up," said Stadler. "Success is compliance."

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