Operation Boo

October 31, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Trick or treaters are out in force tonight, and so are state parole agents.The statewide program called "Operation Boo" has agents making sure convicted sex offenders are not attracting trick or treaters to their homes.

Protecting kids was the idea, sex offenders were the targets, they had strict Halloween rules to follow.

There was plenty of scary Halloween fun in this northwest Fresno neighborhood. "This is really a great neighborhood and it's really kind of like old fashioned Halloween when I was a kid. So it's really special," said Betsy Hays.

Many homes in the neighborhood went to elaborate lengths to attract kids. But one house was dark, for a reason. The resident is a convicted sex offender. On halloween, he and others, who's contact with minors has been restricted have to follow some rules. "They have to be home by five tonight, lights out in the house. No candy, and we're enforcing that," said Parole Agent John Hagler.

Teams of parole agents roam the city, doing spot checks on offenders. All we saw complied, but not all think this is fair.

"You had sex with a girlfriend who was underage, and now you have not let kids come to your house for trick or treating. How does that make you feel?"

"It's bad. You know, it's bad, it's a hard thing to deal with."

"You don't feel like you're like a guy who's been molesting little children?"

"Correct. No, I'm far from that. Far from that."

This young man is a sex offender. He was convicted of having sex with his girlfriend. It was consensual, but she was underage. He served 8 months in prison and must wear an electronic monitor for three years. He says he shouldn't be considered a child molester.

Parole Agent John Hagler says under the law, he has to be checked. "There is a misconception that everybody is a child predator and they are all the guys we supervise are not predators. Most of the victims are in their own household. So, most of our guys aren't hiding behind bushes jumping out at kids."

Five teams worked the Fresno area this Halloween. The team we were with found only one offender who did something wrong. "This house we came in and everything was good but the porch light was on," said Hagler, "so that's what we do, we find an error and we fix it. Now if we found a violation that we thought was egregious, that person would go to prison."

One mother we talked to approved. "I do. I do think it's a good idea to keep our children safe," said Amanda Jones.

Operation Boo has become an annual statewide event. It doesn't usually result in many arrests, but it's designed to be a deterrent.



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