Police to enforce sex offender law on Halloween; critics say it's unfair

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GREENE COUNTY, Mo. - Screams and scary costumes are all part of Halloween fun. In an effort to keep fright night just make believe, law enforcers will be out in force.

"We're out there to protect our kids," explained Cpl. James Craigmyle of the Greene County Sheriff's Office. "We're out there to protect our community."

The Greene County Sheriff's Office and the Springfield Police Department will be knocking on doors, those of sex offenders. There are 783 registered sex offenders just in Greene County, alone. Out of that number, 212 must comply with the so-called Halloween Law.

According to the regulations, all sex offenders have to avoid Halloween related contact with children, which means between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., they need to turn off their outside lights and post a sign stating they don't have any candy.

Craigmyle said if registered sex offenders don't adhere to the law they could face the consequences; he explained, "It depends on how serious the offense is whenever they {officers} go out there. More times than not, they usually end up getting arrested."

While Halloween restrictions on sex offenders offer parents peace of mind, critics with the National Association of Rational Sex Offense Laws argue the rules are both unnecessary and misguided.

"Children are four times more likely to be harmed by a car on Halloween whereas there is no increased risk of sexual harm to a child on Halloween. And that money that's spent on going door to door and making sure everybody's lights are off would be much better spent patrolling neighborhoods and making sure cars aren't dashing through intersections," said NARSOL executive director Brenda Jones.

Jones added her organization does care about children and their safety, but she said: "there's no evidence in recorded history of any additional harm ever coming to a child on Halloween over any other day of the year."

It's a chance, though, police aren't willing to take.