DENVER (CBS4) – A sweep for sex offenders has been under way across Colorado. Officers have been going door-to-door looking for criminals considered dangerous to children and communities.
It’s called “Operation Shepherd” and it began before dawn on Friday. The sweep is being led by the U.S. Marshals Service and involves 36 agencies.
So far officers have arrested 16 sex offenders for issues ranging from failing to register to sex assaults and Internet exploitation against children. They’ve been looking for 95 people with outstanding warrants.
Such sweeps play a crucial role in cases like Jessica Ridgeway’s, the 10-year-old who disappeared in Westminster and turned up dead.
When children are abducted U.S. marshals and law enforcement say they look to identify potential suspects from known sex offenders in the area. They need to know where they are at all time — for many reasons. It can take hours, even days for some of the people to be found. And when they are found it can bring authorities to common places.
“They come from all backgrounds. We have very violent sexual offenders, we have sexually violent predators,” U.S. Marshal Roberto Rodriguez said.
Teams were paired and top targets identified. A team CBS4′s Jennifer Brice followed was specifically looking for two men who have fallen off the grid by failing to register. The first stop was a Colfax Avenue motel.
“Have you seen Earnest Daniels?” Dana Madrid, Department of Corrections parole supervisor, asked the motel attendant.
“He checked out,” she responded. “I (haven’t seen) him in a long time, too. They (are) so bad, and I (told) them, ‘Just don’t come back.’ “
There was no Daniels and no Colin Grub at the motel, but each stop brought more information.
When sex offenders don’t register it’s unsettling to Madrid because they need to stay away from children.
“To make sure they’re following all their conditions and not re-offending or not in their cycle to re-offend,” Madrid said.
Stop after stop they still had no luck, but the conversation was good.
“If I see him, I’ll let you know,” a man told Madrid.
Finally, they get the right tip and agents rushed to a barber shop on Colfax. Earnest Daniels was working there as a barber and in the middle of a cut when the handcuffs went on.
“He said he’s homeless and he had nowhere to live, so he’s been out smoking pot,” Madrid said. “All the stuff that was found on him — crack pipe — he said it wasn’t his … we’ve been looking for him since 7 a.m. It’s 11:30 a.m., we found him; 4 1/2 hours, successful, good feeling, a lot of work.”
As of Monday evening agents made compliance checks on 727 sex offenders. Of the 16 arrested, authorities say one included a man living in a house with two young children. They say he shouldn’t have been anywhere near them, let alone living with them.