Agents ensure sex offenders avoid contact with kids

Two children, a punk-rock ballerina and a zombie, bounded down the sidewalk Wednesday as a team of parole agents pulled up to a west Santa Rosa apartment complex.

The agents arrived to make a surprise visit to a 58-year-old man on parole for a child pornography conviction, who as a result is a registered sex offender.

"That is our primary concern, right there," said agent Jason Colarusso, nodding toward the children. "Their safety."

Parole officers across California headed into communities on Halloween night to visit the homes of sex offenders whose convictions involve crimes against children.

Called "Operation Boo," agents aimed to enforce special restrictions that apply to this subset of parolees on Halloween. The program began in 1994.

Parolees must be home by 5 p.m. and cannot hand out candy, put up decorations, turn on outdoor lights or answer the door for anyone but police.

"You can do nothing that indicates you are participating in the holiday," Agent Fernando Mata, out of San Francisco, said.

Santa Rosa's parole office has nine agents who each manage about 80 parolees in Sonoma, Marin and Napa counties. Of those, 120 are registered sex offenders, said Kevin Savage, a Santa Rosa parole agent.

Four local agents, aided by two San Francisco officers, set out Wednesday with a plan to visit as many as a dozen homes in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Windsor. All parolees know they may get a visit.

They visit high-risk sex offenders based on a recommendation by their assigned parole officer, Mata said.

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