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U.S. Marshals Service

Operation FALCON 2009: Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-248)

On July 27, 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-248) was signed into law. The Act provides that the “Attorney General shall use the resources of Federal law enforcement, including the United States Marshals Service, to assist jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who violate sex offender registration requirements”.

The new law also established a new federal crime (18 USC § 2250) which subjects sex offenders who knowingly fail to register (or to keep their registration current) to up to ten years imprisonment in the event that they travel in interstate or foreign commerce. Thus, in addition to assisting state, local, territorial, and tribal law enforcement authorities in locating and apprehending unregistered sex offenders, the U.S. Marshals Service will also work with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the U.S. Attorneys Offices to investigate potential violations of the Adam Walsh Act.

In furtherance of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the United States Marshals Service assists jurisdictions in locating and apprehending sex offenders who fail to comply with their sex offender registration requirements, and serves as the lead agency responsible for investigating violations of the Act and related offenses.

The U.S. Marshals Service performs three distinct missions pursuant to the Act:

  • Assisting state, local, tribal, and territorial authorities in the location and apprehension of non-compliant sex offenders;

  • Investigating violations of the Adam Walsh Act and related offenses; and

  • Assisting in the identification and location of sex offenders relocated as a result of a major disaster

The U.S. Marshals Service also continues to assist federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies in locating and apprehending fugitive sex offenders.

To perform these duties effectively and to avoid duplication of effort, the U.S. Marshals Service works closely with its law enforcement counterparts, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) (also linked as http://www.missingkids.com/ )  and the DOJ Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office.

Program Management and Coordination

On August 14, 2006, the U.S. Marshals Service established its Sex Offender Apprehension Program (SOAP) and designated a program management office (the Sex Offender Investigations Branch) at U.S. Marshals Service Headquarters to direct and coordinate the implementation of the Act within the agency. The U.S. Marshals Service has also designated experienced criminal investigators to serve as sex offender investigations coordinators (SOICs) within all U.S. Marshals Service districts and Regional Fugitive Task Forces to spearhead implementation of the legislation, and to establish and maintain effective contacts with sex offender registration authorities, corrections officials, and other law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The U.S. Marshals Service is also coordinating with NCMEC to generate, analyze, and disseminate leads concerning non-compliant sex offenders.

The U.S. Marshals Service is well positioned to carry out its new responsibilities under the Act. Through its existing network of interagency fugitive task forces, U.S. Marshals Service personnel work alongside law enforcement officers from hundreds of other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies on a daily basis. To ensure the safety of children across the country, the U.S. Marshals Service implemented an aggressive enforcement strategy. Since July 2006, the U.S. Marshals Service has apprehended approximately 20,000 fugitives wanted for sexual assaults, sex offender registration violations, and other sex crimes. Additionally, investigators have opened more than 2,200 investigations on convicted sex offenders for violations of the Walsh Act and arrested more than 400 individuals who have been charged federally. Through these interagency networks, the U.S. Marshals Service and its partners will be able to effectively identify, investigate, locate, and apprehend sex offenders who violate their registration requirements.

The U.S. Marshals Service is also coordinating its enforcement efforts with the Department of Homeland Security’s Operation Predator, primarily through the Law Enforcement Support Center in Burlington, Vermont, to ensure that alien sex offenders arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service are referred to DHS for potential immigration proceedings.

The U.S. Marshals Service will also continue to coordinate its efforts with U.S. Attorneys and concerned federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies including Internet Crimes against Children Task Forces, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Interpol, U.S. Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other concerned agencies to share information and resources and to minimize duplication of effort.

Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking 

The Department of Justice Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART) Office was authorized in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006.

The responsibilities of the SMART Office include providing states with guidance regarding the implementation of the Adam Walsh Act, and providing technical assistance to the states, territories, Indian tribes, local governments, and to public and private organizations. The SMART Office also will track important legislative and legal developments related to sex offenders and administer grant programs related to the registration, notification, tracking and monitoring of sex offenders.

Current Initiatives

Through a strong relationship with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and established contacts with state sex offender registries, the U.S. Marshals Service continues to assist with the identification of non-compliant sexual offenders for prosecution under the Act. NCMEC figures indicate that approximately 665,000 registered sex offenders reside in the United States. Other estimates suggest an additional 100,000 sexual offenders are classified as non-complaint or unregistered.

To fulfill its mandate by the Department of Justice as the nation’s leading law enforcement agency in this fight, the U.S. Marshals Service has established the following initiatives:

  • The Sex Offender Apprehension Program

  • National sex offender special apprehension initiatives which focus U.S. Marshals Service resources on noncompliant and fugitive sex offenders

  • A case management office at NCMEC to oversee U.S. Marshals Service investigations involving abducted children (“Operation Pickup”)

  • Incident Management Teams to assist with identifying and locating sex offenders during a major crises/natural disaster

  • A working relationship with Interpol to issue “Green Notices” to track the movement of sex offenders between member nations

  • Nationwide media campaigns encouraging compliance with sex offender registration laws

Future Initiatives

In addition to these programs, the U.S. Marshals Service plans to implement future initiatives in furtherance of its enforcement responsibilities, these include:

  • The establishment of the National Sex Offender Targeting Center (NSOTC), designed to be an interagency intelligence and operations center supporting the identification, investigation, location, apprehension, and prosecution of non-complaint, unregistered fugitive sex offenders

  • The creation of the U.S. Marshals Service Behavioral Analysis Unit within the NSOTC to assist with the prioritization and targeting of non-compliant and fugitive sex offenders.

  • Increasing U.S. Marshals Service participation in NCMEC’s “Operation Pickup” program.

  • Establishing a coalition between nations that maintain organized sex offender registries and hosting an annual summit with these nations.

 
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