by Victor Lopez
ECTOR COUNTY--How can you be sure you little ghosts and goblins aren't walking up to a sex offender's front door?
Ector County Probation officials say Halloween is the most vulnerable time for kids in the community, going door to door trick or treating with sex offenders in the neighborhood. They have put a program in place that keeps the two from crossing paths, at least for one night.
"We have them report to our office at 7:00 PM on Halloween evening and we will keep them here until we see that most children are off the streets," Ector County Sexual Probation Officer, Laura Hall, said.
With Halloween falling on a Sunday this year, there's been a lot of confusion about when kids are going out for trick or treat. That means Bell needs to know when to bring their guys in.
"We actually checked with the mall and a couple of the churches on when they were doing their Halloween activities. Most of them said Sunday. So ours are going to be required to come in Sunday," Hall explained.
Hall says it's part of their conditions of probation to sit out on Halloween and not showing up could cost them, "If they don't show up, we will get a warrant for their arrest. (What will they be charged with?) Violation of probation."
In addition to not being home for Halloween, there are other restrictions.
According to Hall, "They can not have any porch light on in the evenings. They cannot have any kind of Halloween decor or regalia, anything like that."
Placing these restrictions on them is obviously a safety measure, but it doesn't just protect the children. It protects the offender too.
"If a child comes to their door and they have the urge to talk to the child or have any feelings, it protects them from having that availability to a child," Hall said.
There are close to 240 registered sex offenders in Ector County. Their offenses are anything from indecency with a child to aggravated sexual assault of a child. Only about 65 of these are on supervised probation. What about the other 175?
"If they're not under any kind of supervision, if they've completed probation, if they've completed their prison or parole time, they're not under the same restrictions," Hall commented.
Hall warns to stay away from unlit or undecorated houses, since it's better to be safe than sorry, "Assume the worst. Assume a sex offender may live there and avoid that house at all cost."