Civilians will soon help troopers track sex offenders

Posted at 6:37 PM, Apr 06, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-06 18:52:58-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Registered sex offenders in Virginia should soon see new faces on their door step.

"Through the Governor's budget, and now through the House and the Senate, they've proposed money to support for the hiring of 40 civilian personnel to work in our Sex Offender Investigation Unit,” said Corrine Geller, spokesperson for the Virginia State Police.

There are currently 45 state troopers in the Sex Offender Investigation Unit who track more than 7,000 registered sex offenders in Virginia who are not in prison.

The civilians will mostly assist with administrative duties.

"Really, it's going to be working in conjunction with the troopers and assisting them in their responsibilities for this unit,” Geller said.

According to the State Police, the civilians’ main duties will to be assist troopers in validating current offender's employment and residency information.

But some have raised concerns over how that information is vetted.  Troopers check twice a year to ensure that the address sex offenders have provided police is accurate.

The new civilian positions would receive only 80 hours of training before assisting troopers in these checks.  Organizations like Reform Sex Offender Laws of Virginia worry these civilians may be under qualified for this task.

In a statement the executive director, Mary Devoy, said quote:

“Our concern is that by hiring civilians to do these checks that ‘want-a-be’ cops who perhaps were unable to meet the requirements of a local or state officer program but have a desire to be in an authority position will jump at this chance to become a ‘Sex Offender Wrangler/Hunter.’"

[BONUS: Reform Sex Offender Laws of Virginia's Executive Director's complete statement]

However, state police say the civilians will be closely monitored and will not be armed.

"At no time will we ever put these individuals in any kind of harms way, or the public in any kind of harms way,” said Geller.