Keeping Sex Offenders Away From Children on Halloween

As Massachusetts kids head out on Halloween night, probation officers from Fall River District Court will visit the homes of several registered sex offenders to ensure they're following all the rules.

"We don't want anything that's going to be able to lure the kids to the house," said Michael Borden, a probation officer for the court.

In 2006, Borden began the initiative "Operation Lights Out." The program brings probation and police officers together to visit the homes of registered offenders who are currently on probation.

Monday night, three teams of officers planned to stop by the homes of 30 people who met their qualifications for a visit. During the stop, they check to ensure the front lights are shut off and no decorations have been put on display, as both could potentially attract kids to the property.

"As a parent I know it's an important initiative. You want them to have fun without the worry of approaching the wrong door, unfortunately, and having an incident take place," said probation officer, Mark Costa.

The program in Fall River has run without incident for the last decade, which residents believe can be attributed to the continued presence by law enforcement.

"By the police going they know, you know, 'if I mess up here, I'm going to jail,'" said homeowner Claire Langlois Rossi.

In addition to Fall River, officers will also be out conducting checks in surrounding communities. Worcester Superior court holds Operation Watchdog, which ensures offenders are properly registered under state requirements. Springfield District and Hampden Superior Probation Officers also maintain their own programs.

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