SAN DIEGO — Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. announced today the successful completion of “Operation Watchdog,” an unprecedented law enforcement sweep to verify that 300 registered sex offenders in San Diego are obeying the law and living at the address they have reported to authorities. Nine arrests were made.
“Because of sex offenders’ propensity to reoffend, keeping tabs on them is crucial to protecting the public,” Brown said. “As in many things, the price of safety is constant vigilance, and my office is committed to providing that.”
Led by David Collazo, a special agent supervisor in Brown’s office, Operation Watchdog involved more than 100 state, federal and local law enforcement officers, who fanned out over San Diego County yesterday to check on more than 300 registered sex offenders. Five of the 26 task force teams took along specially trained dogs to check for illegal drugs and guns.
Some 4,600 registered sex offenders live in San Diego.
Sex offenders on probation or parole were searched. The others were questioned to make sure they were complying with all state laws, including living at the same address they provided to law enforcement authorities. Arrests were made for parole and probation violations and possession of drug paraphernalia and guns.
As Operation Watchdog began yesterday morning, the Attorney General visited the command center and was briefed. Besides its enforcement function, the Attorney General’s office maintains a website at www.meaganslaw.ca.gov that lists the locations of 63,000 sex offenders in the state, along with other pertinent information.
The SAFE (Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement) task force that conducted the operation was formed nearly a decade ago to reduce the number of sex crimes in San Diego County and apprehend the perpetrators of those crimes. SAFE assists in criminal investigations such as the case of convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III, who was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year for the 2009 rape and murder of 14-year-old Amber Dubois and the February 2010 rape and murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King. Gardner had lied to authorities about his residence, listing Riverside County instead of San Diego.
Yesterday’s sweep was the first such large-scale effort, although SAFE conducts hundreds of face-to-face interviews with sex offenders each year to make sure they are in compliance with the law.
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