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Missouri makes progress in finding unaccounted sex offenders, auditor says

Jackson Co. still has most unaccounted offenders
Missouri sex offenders Feb. 2019
Posted at 1:05 PM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 23:45:54-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After an audit last fall found that Missouri had more than 1,200 unaccounted sex offenders, local law enforcement officials have made progress in bringing that number down.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway said Monday that the number of non-compliant sex offenders has decreased by 21% since the original audit was made public in October.

Reductions in unaccounted sex offenders in Jackson County and St. Louis City led to more than half of that decrease, Galloway said in a news release.

“Our audit last year found the information available in the public sex offender registry was not accurate. That's an issue of public safety,” Galloway said in the release. “Following the audit, law enforcement has worked to better locate and hold accountable sex offenders not following the law, as well as take steps to make sure information in the database is current.”

The audit released last fall found that 1,259 registered sex offenders, or about 8% of all registered sex offenders in Missouri, had failed to follow state law requiring them to register and verify their address with local law enforcement.

Among those, about 800 were Tier III offenders, the most serious offense category.

The audit attributed the high number of unaccounted offenders to inadequate enforcement at the local level, noting that in 14 counties and St. Louis the whereabouts of more than 10% of sex offenders was unknown.

According to the original audit, Jackson County had between 20.1% and 25% percent of unaccounted sex offenders — one of the highest percentages in the state.

Data at the end of February showed Jackson County had reduced the percentage of non-compliant offenders to 17.4%, though it still had the most unaccounted sex offenders in the state with 361, according to Galloway.

"The sheriff’s office will continue to focus on apprehending the most violent non-compliant sex offenders," Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forte told 41 Action News. "Although the numbers are trending in the right direction, we are not satisfied. We will continue to adjust our enforcement and apprehension methods while working with local and federal partners."