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Eight intensive supervision officers sworn in to monitor sex offenders

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Court officials hope newly hired and specialized officers will help monitor a growing population of convicted sex offenders who are released from West Virginia prisons.

Eight people took an oath of office to become intensive supervision officers on Wednesday, a job that requires they work closely with sex offenders to ensure they are compliant with federal sex offender laws and the state sex offender registry.

Caren Bills, deputy director of the state Division of Probation Services, said intensive supervision officers watch over sex offenders and get to know them in ways that a regular probation officer could not achieve.

"These officers are not stuck in an office. They are out in the community," Bills said. "They are required a minimum of four face-to-face meetings with offenders in their regions a month."

The state currently has 35 intensive supervision officers broken up into six regions throughout the state. The officers work holidays, nights and weekends.

Five officers were sworn in to replace officers that either retired or resigned. Three officers were sworn into newly created positions because of the growing sex offender population.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin delivered the oath of office to the eight officers in the Supreme Court chamber Wednesday. The officers would continue learning more about their positions during conference meetings this week, Bills said.

Bills said the officers are required to have at least three years of experience in criminal justice and counseling before they are hired.

"Sex offenders are top of the line to manipulate people," Bills said. "We wouldn't put someone in that position straight out of high school."

James Conley was sworn in to replace an officer in one nine-county region that includes Monongalia, Marion and Randolph counties.

Conley said he already has three years of experience working with sex offenders as a probation officer.

"I'm looking forward to making the community more secure for our children," he said.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.

 


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