- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

NORFOLK (AP) More than 200 Norfolk and Virginia Beach sex offenders spent Halloween's trick-or-treating hours in parole and probation offices under a program aimed at keeping children safe.
In Operation Trick No Treat, parole and probation officers identified people who had been convicted of sex crimes who might be tempted by the accessibility of children. Those people were required to come to the office between 4:30 and 8 p.m. Thursday.
"It's better to prevent a possible crime than to apprehend someone afterward," said Christopher F. Pate, chief probation and parole officer in Norfolk.
Norfolk probation officers came up with the idea last year, Mr. Pate said. This year was the first time Virginia Beach participated.
Halloween is the only day a large group of sex offenders is required to report in the two cities. Officials did not cite statistics showing an increase of sex attacks on Oct. 31.
This year, Norfolk attendants were tested for substance abuse and watched educational videos related to their offenses. Six of the 127 targeted people did not show up, Mr. Pate said. Their cases will be reviewed, and they could be ordered to perform community service or arrested for probation violation, he said.
In Virginia Beach, offenders were photographed for a sex offender book, given substance-abuse tests, watched videos and talked with a counselor, said Carol Buck, Virginia Beach's chief probation and parole officer.
One of the 90 targeted people did not attend, Miss Buck said. That person was arrested Thursday night, charged with a probation violation and jailed, she said.
Some people said they missed work and being with their families to attend the Norfolk session. But they said they understood why they were asked to come and did not want to risk a violation.
"It makes sense," said Charles E. Davis, 64. "When you're not supposed to be around children, and they do come around your home that's the reason."
Others said they felt that attending the session protected them from being falsely accused.

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