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SLED sends sex offender alerts. Do you get them?

South Carolina's sex offender registry notification system is largely unused by people in the state, law enforcement says. (WCIV)

There are more than 10,000 registered sex offenders in South Carolina. Once on the list, you are there for life.

Detective Rob Coulson with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office says, “They are constantly coming on board. The only way they move out is death or you move out of my state."

Coulson visits their homes at least once a year. He verifies they live at the address they've reported to the sheriff's office.

At roughly 900, Charleston County has the second-highest number of sex offenders in the state. That breaks down to about 75 home visits a month for Coulson.

"The state mandates that we do one field check a year, minimum, to anybody on the registry. We also have to check them anytime they move or change residency. We have to check them within about 30 days,” Coulson explains.

If an offender moves and fails to register their new address, a warrant is issued.

Last year, Detective Coulson made about 40 arrests.

The home visits are important because of the state’s online sex offender database. It’s continually updated. You can track offenders who may live or work near you.

However, right now, just under 1,300 people in the entire state have signed up for the instant community notifications. South Carolina’s population is roughly 5 million.

We compared our numbers to states with similar populations and sex offender notification programs.

In Louisiana, 84,367 people know right away when a sex offender moves in. In Arkansas, more than 8,500 have signed up. In Colorado, around 5,400 people take advantage of their state’s instant notification.

Detective Coulson says, "It is good for the public to use any program that the government or the city or the county puts out to help them be safer."

South Carolina is the 9th fastest growing state in the U.S., and research shows roughly 30 people move to the Charleston area every day. That means Detective Coulson's sex offender list is also growing rapidly.

Coulson also strongly warns against using phone apps that track sex offenders. He calls them "horrendously out of date."

“It makes it difficult because if somebody lives somewhere and then they moved, I will remove (them from the registry). But the app can't. We run into a lot of problems with people buying homes and they almost have to get a lawyer to fight those companies to get that information removed."

If you want to see the most up-to-date list of sex offenders living or working in your area, check out the S.C. Sex Offender Registry on the State Law Enforcement Division's website (CLICK HERE).

You can also sign up to receive instant e-mail notifications if an offender moves near you, found under the "Community Notifications" tab (CLICK HERE).


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