Sexual and Violent Offenders Targeted in Two-County Compliance Check Operation

With the goal of locating offenders who aren’t in compliance with Montana’s Sexual or Violent Offender Registry, Montana law enforcement agencies conducted intensive compliance checks in Flathead and Lake Counties from July 30 through August 1. During the operations, a total of 268 offender address verifications were conducted.

Offender compliance checks were initiated by Montana Attorney General Tim Fox in 2013. To date, law enforcement agencies have conducted operations in Billings, Great Falls, and Missoula, as well as in Beaverhead, Glacier, and Pondera Counties. “This operation is not only a great example of how law enforcement collaborates to keep Montana families safe; it also marks the first time a multi-agency compliance check has taken place in Flathead and Lake Counties,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “We look forward to announcing the results of more compliance checks with our local, state, and federal partners as well as offering Montanans the most up-to-date information on our Sexual or Violent Offender Registry.”

“Probation and parole officers work hard every day to ensure that offenders comply with the conditions of their release. But with more than 8,500 offenders under supervision in communities throughout Montana, that’s a huge task,” Corrections Director Mike Batista said. “When cross-agency law enforcement teams combine their resources in a focused operation as we did in Lake and Flathead counties, we can have a dramatic impact on public safety.”

In Flathead County, the United States Marshals Service, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Kalispell Police Department, the Montana Department of Corrections and the Montana Department of Justice participated in the operation. Working together, they verified 110 sex offenders as compliant and found seven sex offenders to be non-compliant (not residing at their registered address). Additionally:

• 6 sex offenders were currently in custody at the local detention facility
• 1 sex offender was located at the Montana State Prison
• 1 sex offender was currently in custody in the State of Minnesota
• 3 sex offenders that were non-compliant had warrants issued for failure to register
• 1 sex offender was arrested on a failure to register warrant

“For the public’s safety, it is extremely important that law enforcement agencies monitor the compliance of sexual or violent offenders. This multi-agency operation is a great example of how serious we, law enforcement, take offender compliance,” Kalispell Chief of Police Roger Nasset said.

In Lake County, the United States Marshals Service, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Polson Police Department, the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribal Law and Order, the Montana Department of Corrections and the Montana Department of Justice collaboratively verified 53 sex offenders and found six sex offenders found to be non-compliant. Additionally:

• 5 sex offenders were brought into compliance with an updated address verification letter
• 1 sex offender was found to be deceased and removed from the Registry
• 1 sex offender was found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia; criminal charges are pending
• 1 non-registered offender arrested for felony warrant

“With the recent sexual or violent offenders compliance checks conducted in our communities, it is reassuring knowing that all law enforcement agencies have this as a high priority,” Polson Police Chief Wade Nash said. “When state and federal law enforcement agencies work together, you walk away at the end of the day knowing the job of keeping track of these offenders is getting done. This aggressive action minimizes the threat of repeat offenders from going under the radar and victimizing our citizens.”

Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribal Law and Order Chief Craige Couture noted, “This is yet another example of cooperation among law enforcement agencies working together for public safety.”

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell said, “I’ve heard very good reports from the citizens of Lake County about the compliance checks. Our deputies, the State, the U.S. Marshals Service, CSKT officers, and Polson police did the compliance checks because this is one step in keeping the people in this area safe.”

Under Montana law, convicted sexual or violent offenders must register their address of residence with local law enforcement. The information is provided to the Montana Department of Justice and input into the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry (SVOR). Depending on their tier level designation, sex offenders must verify their addresses with law enforcement on a regular basis (by law, violent offenders are not given a tier level). When an offender fails to verify his/her address, he/she falls out of compliance with the registry.

• Tier III (the most dangerous) sex offenders must verify address every 90 days
• Tier II sex offenders must verify address every 180 days
• Tier I and non-designated sex offenders must verify address once per year

Montana’s SVOR, which tracks an average of 2,300 sexual offenders and 3,300 violent offenders at any given time, is viewable online at https://app.doj.mt.gov/apps/svow/default.aspx On-line visitors may also register for free email notifications that allow them to be automatically notified whenever a sexual or violent offender moves into a zip code of interest to subscribers.