Utah investigation finds that 20% of sex offenders contacted were not properly registered

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) US Attorney John Huber talks about Operation Reboot, a statewide sex offender operation involving the US Marshals Service and 11 Utah law enforcement agencies, during a news conference on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.

Police and federal agents spent the first two weeks of August nabbing fugitive sex offenders and checking that sex offenders were following registration laws as part of one of the largest such investigations in Utah history.

Beginning Aug. 3, officers from 11 state agencies went door to door to check on sex offenders to make sure their registration information was current, U.S. Marshal Matthew Harris said at a Tuesday news conference. The U.S. Marshals Service funded the investigation.

Officers visited nearly 1,000 of the state’s 8,000 sex offenders and found that about 20% hadn’t met registration requirements. Harris said 33 people were either arrested or will have their cases turned over for possible prosecution.

That was the first part of Operation Reboot. The second involved dispatching the U.S. Marshals’ Violent Fugitive Apprehension Team to seek out fugitive sex offenders. Eight people were arrested, Harris said.

The operation ended Aug. 14.

U.S. Attorney John Huber said the officers who worked at odd times and took on overtime for the operation did it because they care about their communities, especially the children who live there.

He said work like this proves recent calls to defund police in the wake of George Floyd’s by police in Minneapolis are “ludicrous.”

“This type of operation shows how ridiculous the demands are to defund the police, to defund law enforcement,” he said. “Who will protect our children in such a bizarre counter-universe?”

St. George Police Chief Kyle Whitehead told reporters this sort of operation isn’t necessarily exciting police work — it’s more tedious — but it’s necessary.

“We do this for the children,” Whitehead said.

Police departments in Heber City, Park City, Provo, Salt Lake City, St. George, Vernal and West Jordan participated, in addition to the Utah, Uintah, Wasatch and Washington county sheriff’s departments.