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MSA: Audit numbers on missing registered sex offenders just don' - KOAM TV 7

MSA: Audit numbers on missing registered sex offenders just don't add up

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Police don't know the whereabouts of nearly 1,300 registered sex offenders in Missouri, according to a state audit report released on October 1st, 2018. The audit, released by state Auditor Nicole Galloway, blames inadequate enforcement of the registration requirement at the local level. (Read more on the audit)

Galloway said the findings are "disturbing and alarming."

"As it stands the sex offender registry really provides a false sense of security," Galloway said at a news conference in St. Louis.

But now, the Missouri Sheriffs' Association says "Galloway published false assertions in her official report regarding the oversight and control of the Missouri sex offender registry program that incorrectly placed law enforcement in a negative light. The Auditor's numbers and information just don't add up."

Galloway's office says "It's unfortunate that the Sheriffs' Association decided to weigh in this way. During the audit process, audit staff met with the head of the Missouri Sheriffs' Association to seek information and input about issues noted in the report, but the association ultimately "declined" to provide any responses to those inquiries."

Below is the MSA's response to the audit, and Galloway's response to the MSA.


From the Missouri Sheriffs' Association

Jefferson City, Missouri

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway published false assertions in her official report regarding the oversight and control of the Missouri sex offender registry program that incorrectly placed law enforcement in a negative light. The Auditor's numbers and information just don't add up.

First, the Missouri Sheriffs' Association contacted all sheriffs in Missouri who in turn stated they were not contacted by the Auditor or her staff to discuss the issue of registration of sex offenders. Previous auditors, showing respect, contacted local sheriffs who in turn provided input and expertise into the administration of the sex offender registry. Had this auditor done her due diligence, as did previous auditors, she would have

uncovered the truth behind the numbers of offenders she alleges are unaccounted for in Missouri.

Second, the Auditor's assertion that the Missouri Sheriffs' Association declined to provide a response to the issues noted in her report is a flat out lie. Prior to the audit findings being published, I personally met with Audit Manager Joshua Allen from the auditor's office on July 19, 2018 in my office at the Sheriffs' Association in Jefferson City. I shared factors that could influence the low totals of outstanding warrants for noncompliant sex

offenders. We discussed certain enforcement and prosecution priorities as well as various reasons contributing to warrants not being obtained for noncompliant sex offenders.

At the conclusion of her audit, neither the Auditor nor the Auditor's designated representative shared a copy of a draft report of the audit with either the Sheriffs' Association or any sheriff. Instead, Auditor Galloway rushed her report to the press without an opportunity for sheriffs to discuss the draft or to review and rebut the false assertions of her final report and findings. This failure to communicate her findings shows callousness for law enforcement and a total misunderstanding of the basic concepts of a criminal investigation.

Third, sheriffs of Missouri take this matter very seriously. The failure of a sex offender to register as required is a crime and handled with the same protocols as with other crimes. If a sex offender fails to report upon moving, a criminal investigation must be started and evidence must be obtained to provide the prosecutor with sufficient evidence to initiate charges. The Constitution requires no less for this and other serious crimes.

Lastly, the numbers asserted by Auditor Galloway just don't hold up under review. Had she simply contacted the sheriffs for input before releasing the report and not rushed to judgment, the Auditor would have discovered the number of those she asserts to be unaccounted for simply is not true. Some offenders are in prison and accounted for, some have passed away and accounted for and many others are in the process for

criminal prosecution which requires an investigation, evidence to obtain a warrant and then interaction with the prosecutor and the Circuit Court. For instance, of those in Lawrence County who the Auditor says cannot be located:

3 offenders are in custody of the Missouri Department of Correction;

1 moved out of state and is no longer required to register in Missouri;

1 is deceased;

3 have active warrants for failure to register;

3 have active investigations and warrants will likely be issued soon;

1 has information sent to PA awaiting warrant issuance.

Other counties have similar information that refutes the Auditor's false claim that these offenders are simply hiding in Missouri without a trace. The audit report is written to make it appear Missouri sheriffs and prosecutors are not doing their jobs. It shows a disregard for and a complete misunderstanding of the important role these offices play in Missouri.

When I asked which sheriffs the Auditor contacted to confirm data prior to publishing her findings, the Auditor's office hid behind state statutes stating it would not release information related to the Audit. Previous auditors published who they contacted in their reports. If the issue is really one of ensuring the sex offender law is properly enforced, it is imperative that the auditor's office exhibit nonbiased reporting in an open and

transparent manner.

I encourage anyone who has concerns or questions about sex offender registration to contact their local sheriff.

The Missouri Sheriffs' Association is a 501c(3) nonprofit association. The Missouri Sheriffs' Association advances the office of Sheriff, public awareness of the office of Sheriff and is the largest law enforcement training organization in Missouri.

Kevin Merritt

Executive Director

Missouri Sheriffs' Association


The Missouri State Auditor's Office released the following statement on the response by the Missouri's Sheriffs' Association to the audit of Missouri's sexual offender registration (SOR) program:

It's unfortunate that the Sheriffs' Association decided to weigh in this way. During the audit process, audit staff met with the head of the Missouri Sheriffs' Association to seek information and input about issues noted in the report, but the association ultimately "declined" to provide any responses to those inquiries.

The Sex Offender Registry is administered by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Local law enforcement, typically the county sheriff, is responsible for providing accurate information to the sex offender registry for their jurisdiction. The information contained in the audit was obtained from the Missouri State Highway Patrol on February 14 and May 23 of this year.

The purpose of a centralized registry is so the public can rely on a single resource to access information about registered sex offenders in their community and make informed decisions for their families. Based on the response from the association, there are sheriffs who have information not updated or included in the publicly available tool. If this audit spurs those officials to update and provide that information to the public, then that is a positive result.

The full audit of the sexual offender registration program can be found here.

For more information, contact: media@auditor.mo.gov


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https://www.facebook.com/missourisheriffsassociation/

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