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Sex offender checks held

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By Damon Lawrence

Sex offenders in Roane County got some unexpected visitors Wednesday night.
U.S. Marshals and local law enforcement teamed up for a multi-jurisdictional sex offender compliance check. The effort was dubbed Operation Honey Badger.
“We will be visiting the homes of every registered sex offender in Roane County,” said Derrick Swenson, a senior inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service.
Roane County has 106 registered sex offenders, according to the TBI Sexual Offender Registry.
 “Rape, aggravated rape, sodomy, child porn,” Swenson said. “It’s the whole gamut.” 
Some have been indicted by the Roane County grand jury for other sex crimes while on the registry.
Swenson said convicted sex offenders are not allowed to possess firearms or ammunition and are restricted on whom they can live with.
“If their crime was against a child, they cannot live in a household with children other than their biological children,” he said.
The officers met at the District Attorney General’s Office in Kingston before disbursing in teams to conduct the compliance checks.
Operation Honey Badger was scheduled to take place Thursday night as well. 
Swenson said the marshals service pays the overtime so local police can participate. 
“We found that these things are a vital part of making the citizens feel safe that we’re out here checking on the sex offenders,” Swenson said.
The compliance checks aren’t just to make sure sex offenders are where they’re supposed to be.
“If we smell marijuana or see a weapon in plain view, we’ll try to take the investigation a little bit further to see if there’s any other crimes being committed,” Swenson said. “I don’t think we’ve done one of these yet where we haven’t gotten weapons out of houses and some narcotics.”
Many of the sex offenders in Roane County are classified as violent.
“We only have two or three of us that go to each house,” Swenson said. “They’re not expecting us to be there, so we make sure everybody tries to be as safe as possible.”
Swenson also said you never know how a sex offender might react when law enforcement shows up at their door. 
“We’ve had them jump out of windows because they may have committed a crime that nobody knows about, but they think we know about it,” he said.