CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — Cleveland County’s Sheriff’s Office is taking unprecedented steps to make sure you know if a sex offender moves in near you.
It is posting on its Facebook page information about sex offenders who have changed their address or who have just become sex offenders.
Officials said there is a higher percentage of registered sex offenders in the county than in other counties of similar size, so people need extra help to stay safe.
Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman said he is fed up. "Beware," he said. "We are going to put you on social media."
Norman said thatm for some reason, Cleveland County has become a destination for sex offenders and he wants people to know if a sex offender has moved nearby.
"They deserve a safe environment to live in,” said Norman.
The sheriff said he has officers checking the addresses of registered sex offender two to three times more often than the state mandates because the numbers are alarming.
Other nearby county statistics:
- Cleveland County has 318 registered sex offenders in a county of 97,300 people.
- Burke County has about a third fewer in a county slightly smaller in population.
- Catawba has fewer sex offenders, with 50 percent more people.
The sheriff said he wants registered sex offenders to understand they are being watched and to make sure they don't break the law.
"You either need to find another county to live in other than Cleveland County or you are going to be in the Cleveland County jail,” said Norman.
The Facebook posting has been met with overwhelming approval. One person thanked the Sheriff's Office for posting the information.
Some people including resident Marsha Beam, said they disagree. "I honestly think it's an invasion of privacy. If I made a mistake, I wouldn't want everybody on Facebook knowing about it," said Beam.
She said she wants to track sex offenders, but the county is already required to publish information on its website.
Channel 9 went to the home of one of the registered sex offenders to ask if the post was a problem for him, but no one answered the door.
The Sheriff's Office also added in its post that anyone who is found harassing, intimidating or threatening sex offenders can be charged.
Cox Media Group