An increased effort by the West Virginia State Police Department to verify information on the state’s Sex Offender Registry is paying off.
“We’ve had the opportunity to verify over a thousand sex offenders across the state just since January of this year,” said Sergeant Michael M. T. Baylous with the State Police. “As a result of that we have seen over 171 felony and misdemeanor arrests.”
Baylous adds that more arrests are pending as well. Baylous made the announcement Monday afternoon at a presser held at the South Charleston State Police Detachment.
This increased effort has been made possible by a $380,000 Cops Grant the department was awarded from the U.S. Department of Justice in cooperation with the U.S. Marshals Office.
Baylous said $135,000 of that grant has been used to pay for the troopers extra work.
“The grant money allows are troopers to work overtime hours to conduct these verifications so that way we are not tying up the trooper who is out on the field on a daily basis,” said Baylous.
Even with all the success the department has been having in the past few months, the work is far from over.
Baylous said the registry has been growing.
“Over the past three years, the registry has increased by over 400 offenders each year and over 1,200 offenders are currently incarcerated and will need to be registered upon their release from jail or prison,” said Baylous.
For this reason the State Police is also stressing internet safety to kids through multiple showings of the movie “Finding Faith” throughout the state this week.
The film tells true stories and experiences from law enforcement officers with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force. The film stars child advocate and celebrity Erik Estrada.
Baylous said internet safety cannot solely be handled by law enforcement and by showing the movie, it gives parents and children an opportunity to talk about the topic. He said a big part of this fight has to come from the parents.
“What we need are for parents to step up and be parents. Be an authoritative figure to their children,” said Baylous. “They don’t need friends, they don’t need buddies because they have plenty of that, they need parents to step up and be parents.”
The State Police will be hosting five showings of the movie across the state. Those showings are as follows:
-March 1 at Chestnut Ridge Church in Morgantown at 7 p.m.
-March 2 at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Hurricane at 5 p.m.
-March 3 at South Parkersburg Baptist Church in Parkersburg at 6 p.m.
-March 4 at Kirby Assembly of God in Rio. Time to be announced later.
-March 7 at Calvary Assembly of God in Beckley at 6:30 p.m.
Baylous said parents need to step up and take an active role in their childs lives to truly make a difference.