BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Parole officers went door-to-door Halloween night, but they were not trick or treating.
Since 2006, "Operation Halloween" has been the State Parole Division's way of making sure children out in costume stay safe. Officers check the homes of every convicted sex offender across New York State, to make sure none of them are having contact with children.
Buffalo Metro Area Parole Office Bureau Chief Jeffrey Jones said, "And we do so by having a concerted effort to watch this population very closely."
All parolees - whether their victims were children or not - have a strict curfew from 3 p.m. on Halloween until 8 o'clock the next morning. They're forbidden from participating in any Halloween activities.
"This includes not having their lights on their porches, not handing out candy, not even answering the door if someone knocks," Jones explained.
Parole officers thoroughly search the homes of each and every offender, looking for candy, costumes, and decorations, as well as any other contraband such as drugs or weapons. Each year, officials say "a handful" are locked up for violating special conditions.
Jones said, "Some people just aren't willing to comply. And we don't tolerate it. This is very close to a zero-tolerance operation."
This man, who did not want his name or identity revealed, has been out on parole for three Halloweens now.
"You have to tell yourself, you got in this predicament, and you have to put up with the consequences," the parolee said.
He says, he's glad the POs are out, checking on them.
"It is a good idea, because not everybody thinks the same way, and some of the people will take advantage," the parolee said.
Jones added, "Halloween is a concerted effort to show what we do, but we do this each and every day of the year to make sure that these individuals do not harm children in our community."
Sex offenders are subject to a "containment-style" strategy of supervision. Parole officers can subject them to home visits, searches, drug and polygraph testing and GPS monitoring 365 days a year.
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