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State Police sweep nets 171 registered sex offenders

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State Police arrested 171 registered sex offenders over the weekend on charges they provided false information to the state Sex Offender Registry.

Sgt. Michael Baylous said more arrests are pending as investigations continue and more people are located.

Officers checked in on about 1,000 of the more than 3,500 offenders in the state. The increased compliance checks were the result of more federal grant money. Baylous said the grant money allows troopers to work overtime and free up officers who are completing regularly scheduled duties.

"While we are making great strides in maintaining the sex offender registry, it is important to remember the registry continues to grow each year," Baylous said. "As such, it requires more time and resources to properly maintain it."

He said the registry has increased by about 400 offenders each year for the last three years. More than 1,200 offenders are currently incarcerated and will have to be registered upon their release.

The registry may be viewed at It also allows for searches of computer screen names and email addresses.

Col. Jay Smithers, State Police superintendent, said troopers are making great progress in combating Internet crimes against children, but that more work remains.

"Children are in dire need of parents who are willing to take an active role in their daily lives rather than simply being a friend or a buddy," he said.

He encouraged parents and children to watch the film "Finding Faith," which is based on the true stories and experiences of law enforcement officers working to combat online crimes against children. He said families should talk about Internet safety after viewing the film.

The movie features child advocate and actor Erik Estrada, known for his role as Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncherello on the '70s cop show CHiPs, as Sheriff Mike Brown of Virginia.

It's a family-friendly and faith-based film produced in association with Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Showings locally will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Hurricane and at 6:30 p.m. on March 7 at Calvary Assembly of God in Beckley. Showings also are being planned for Morgantown, Parkersburg and Rio.

Estrada will attend the showing in Hurricane. Admission is free though offerings will be accepted. Film merchandise also will be available.

For more, see   

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.



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