NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Department of Correction’s (TDOC) “Operation Blackout” is up and running in full force, checking up on registered sex offenders ahead of Halloween.
“If we know that their offense was against a minor, then they’re not allowed to participate in any trick-or-treating events that night, so they can’t have their porch lights on, they can’t have any Halloween decorations out,” explained Susan Siedentop, TDOC’s correctional administrator over specialized caseloads.
Correction officers will check roughly 2,500 homes before Halloween and 700 to 800 the night of Oct. 31.
Parents are encouraged to look up sex offenders in the area, as well as only visit homes with their porch lights on. Your best bet is to stick to homes you know or sponsored trunk-or-treating events.
However, TDOC officials highlighted that the sex offenders they check up on are roughly 96% in compliance of their probation.
“One of the things that parents need to understand is that 94 to 97% of all new sex offense crimes are committed by someone already known to the child,” Siedentop said. “And there is absolutely no evidence, no statistics that show that a child is more likely to be assaulted on Halloween than any other day of the year.”
Sex offenders who do get in trouble are more likely to be found violating their probation agreements rather than repeating their initial offense.
One thing that has authorities worried more than sex offenders this year is a trend they’ve seen: candy that’s been soaked in fentanyl.
“Make sure that you’re looking at what’s been put in their bag and throw away anything that’s not in its original wrapper, looks like it’s been opened already, or it’s homemade and you don’t know who gave it to them,” said Siedentop.
Meanwhile, the biggest danger to children Halloween night is getting struck by a car.
To keep your child safest, experts recommend you stay with them and even walk up to the door to make sure they don’t leave your sight.