Many people are unaware registered offenders are living nearby, and in some cases, right next door.
Halloween night, authorities are conducting a sex offender sweep to make sure everyone is complying. There are 366 registered sex offenders in Bay County, and 24 of them are predators.
With thousands of children, like Cohen Keller, getting ready for trick or treating Halloween night, local authorities want to make sure everyone is safe.
The Panama City Police Department, Department of Corrections and Bay County Sheriff's Office are teaming up to make sure sex offenders are following the law. "Sex offenders have restrictions to what they can have up through the holidays,” said Detective Reymond Perkins with the Panama City Police Dept. “They can't have any decorations to allure or entice children to their residence. So we do a sweep to ensure this is being carried out properly"
Megan Keller goes over the rules of trick or treating with her son before they head out. "So when you go trick or treating do you go in people's houses?” “No,” he answered. “What do you do if someone asks you to come in?” she asked again. “You run and you scream.”
Detective Perkins says Keller is doing all the right things when it comes to trick or treating safety. "You have your flashlight, and you can hook it to your bucket,” she tells her son.
Perkins also added that children should also avoid homes that do not have their lights on. "I would stick to lit neighborhoods, ones that do cater to Halloween events. Stay away from homes that don't have their porch light on, or appear to be receptive to Halloween."
Perkins said last year they had 100% compliance among the registered offenders, he expects the same this year.