Sheriff: Sex offenders and social media
Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 589 covers issues with Sex Offender Registration requirements. By statute, the sheriff is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer for each 3rd class county and one of the sheriff's duties is to oversee sex offender registration.
At the Livingston County Sheriff's Office we strive to make this task as easy and routine as possible for both our staff and those who must register. The registration laws are strict and we expect those who register to be open and honest in their disclosures to us and we do conduct compliance checks to validate claims. Periodically we will receive information that one of the registered offenders has not been truthful about an address or maybe a vehicle they drive and we investigate the allegation. Intentional failure to disclose required information can result in a felony charge which if convicted will elevate that person's tier level requiring more frequent supervision by the sheriff and possible jail/prison time.
We currently have 42 registered offenders in Livingston County. Some of the things registered offenders are mandated to report are their address, work location, vehicle information and such things as Internet or IP address, email addresses, instant message-ID, chat or text identifiers and such things as if they have Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or other social media. It is NOT against Missouri law for a sex offender to use or access social media but most of the social media platforms have their own rules/policies prohibiting any convicted sex offender from having an account.
I just performed an audit of our registered sex offenders in Livingston County to determine if they have social media account(s) and found that most all of our registered offenders are being compliant on their registrations regarding social media. Specific findings: four registered offenders reported having Facebook and one reported having Snapchat. Two others did not report having social media accounts but may have a very old social media account that has not been accessed in a very long time. While two others did not report having social media account(s), that matter remains under investigation as possible criminal violation(s) for not reporting.
I have notified the social media companies of my findings and already heard back on most of the reports of sex offenders violating the social media company rules/policies. All were thankful for our notifications.
As your sheriff I believe it is important to constantly try to stay ahead on these types of things as doing so may very well prevent someone from becoming a victim.
If you believe someone is a convicted sex offender and on social media, feel free to use the proper link below to send notification. Be sure to also notify your local sheriff as there may be a criminal violation if the offender has not reported using social media.
Snapchat: Contact law enforcement and they can notify Snapchat directly through email.
Remember technology and the Internet are great tools but it also permits creepers and criminals to somewhat hide in the shadows and lurk into your privacy. The best practice is to be safe wherever you go or whatever you do while always being mindful not everyone is who they claim to be or have favorable intentions.
Sheriff Steve Cox
Livingston County Sheriff