HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - The Virginia State Police monitors the state's sex offender registry, which currently has 32,000 violent and non-violent offenders.
Of that number 10,674 are living among us - 3,011 of whom are in Hampton Roads.
The misconception, troopers say, is that every sex offender is a child molester. That is not the case, but of the more than 3,000 registered sex offenders in our area, 75% of them are violent offenders who have been convicted of crimes like rape, molestation or a sexual crime involving a child.
Violent offenders do have stipulations upon their release or end of parole. Many are banned from schools, school buses, day care centers or anywhere children might be.
Sex offenders are, however, allowed in public places. That means a sex offender, convicted of a violent or non-violent crime, could be walking next to you at the mall, playing with your dog at the park or laying in the sand next to your family at the beach.
Troopers have 47 officers and 36 civilians assigned to the sex offender unit in the state. These people make sure sex offenders register with the state, and they check in to be sure the information in the registry is correct and up to date.
A registered sex offender has to let the state know within three days of any address, name or mailing address changes. They have to be constantly notifying troopers of their whereabouts - where they work, where they go to school and so on. An email or social media change has to be registered with the state within 30 minutes of a change.
Troopers say many sex offenders have served their time and stay in compliance with all their requirements because they do not want to catch another charge and possibly go back to jail. There are some, however, who do not like to follow these rules, which is why troopers routinely check in on these offenders.
Parents must be vigilant and aware of their surroundings when it comes to being in a public place with your children. Troopers encourage parents to look up the address of their home, work and their child's school or day care so you know where the sex offenders are. You can find that information here.
For all other information, commonly-asked questions or to get in contact with a trooper about a sex offender who may not be complying, click here.
Watch News 3 at 6 Wednesday night for our full report.