SEXUAL OFFENDER AND PREDATOR UNIT (SOPU)
In 2015, the Sexual Offender/Predator Unit (SOPU) tracked approximately 83 Sexual Predators and 785 Sexual Offenders residing within Marion County. During 2015, 111 new sexual offenders and predators moved to Marion County where they established residences and are now being monitored by the Unit. SOPU is staffed by a Detective and a Sergeant who initiated 94 investigations into incidents involving sexual offenders believed to have violated their registration requirements. These investigations resulted in 64 sexual offenders and predators being arrested. Offenders who violated their sexual offender registration requirements commit a third degree felony which is punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Due to the new sexual offender registration laws enacted on October 1, 2014, the total number of times sexual offenders and predators reported to SOPU during 2015 to register or update their registration information vastly increased to 3,642 SOPU office contacts. This total does not include the thousands of telephone calls and emails to the Unit from offenders, predators, and citizens which result in registration updates and investigations. As a result of this rise in work volume, the SOPU partnered with the newly created SHIELD (Surviving Harmful Interactions through Electronic Location Devices) Unit.
The SHIELD Unit was established to provide an alternative method to deter domestic violence offenders from violating pre-trial release conditions, thus granting victims another tool for protection. This program allows court-ordered pre-trial defendants to be released from jail to return back to their daily routines. The defendant is fitted with a GPS ankle monitor that will track and map their location at all times. The defendant must be court-ordered by a Judge during first appearance, to participate in the program. Exclusion zones, areas where the defendant cannot legally go, can be set up to create a buffer zone of protection for the victim.