Gaston County Sheriff still requiring sex offender check-ins for Halloween night

Pandemic changes Gaston County Sheriff's Office program for sex offenders

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) -Despite coronavirus throwing a wrench into his normal routine, Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger still plans to keep tabs on registered sex offenders Halloween night.

Each year, Cloninger requires the registered sex offenders in Gaston County who are on probation or parole to meet him at the county courthouse on Halloween night. The group usually includes dozens of people. They spend the evening reviewing changes to laws pertaining to sex offenders.

This year, the traditional gathering won’t be happening.

“This year due to the coronavirus or the COVID virus, we are not doing that,” Cloninger said in an interview Friday evening.

He explained that this year, sheriff’s deputies will work with probation and parole officers to check on the whereabouts of the sex offenders who would normally be with him at the courthouse.

“It’s important for the safety of the community to ensure that our children are safe even though we’re not having as big of event with Halloween,” said the sheriff.

WBTV spoke to parents about the sex offender check-in concept outside of a trunk-or-treat event Friday night. Multiple parents agreed that it was a good idea.

“I think it’s awesome. I think it’s very awesome,” said parent Matt Holden.

Lavonda Cook, another parent at the trunk-or-treat event, said she too liked the idea of law enforcement keeping tabs on the registered sex offenders during trick-or-treating.

“I think it’s a great idea for the sheriffs just to go by and check on them, make sure they are where they’re supposed to be are and the kids can have a good time,” said Cook.

Cloninger said he gets positive feedback about the sex offender operation every year.

“People appreciate it. Even a few of the sex offenders appreciate it,” said the sheriff.

He said those who violate the terms of the Halloween check-in Saturday may be subject to arrest.

Copyright 2020 WBTV. All rights reserved.