TDOC announces ‘Operation Blackout’

The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) is responsible for the supervision of more than 3,800 registered sex offenders.  TDOC’s mission is to enhance public safety for all Tennesseans including our most vulnerable citizens – our children.  That’s why the department launches a special operation this time of year called Operation Blackout.

According to Assistant Commissioner of Community Supervision Lisa Helton, “Operation Blackout provides all registered sex offenders under the supervision of the Tennessee Department of Correction with additional restrictions during a time when families and children might be out in the community enjoying festivals and activities.  This operation is part of our commitment to public safety and ensuring that all Tennesseans can enjoy a happy and safe Halloween.”

During Halloween, sex offenders under TDOC supervision are informed of a specific set of rules that must be followed:

  • Must be at home by 6 p.m.
  • No Halloween decorations.
  • Porch lights must be off.
  • No distributing Halloween candy.
  • May not attend Halloween functions (Hallelujah Night, Harvest Festivals, etc.).

TDOC officers will canvas areas and visit more than 3,800 offenders to ensure compliance.  According to Correctional Administrator Sue Siedentop, “While we are aware that the majority of offenders we supervise are compliant with the rules of their supervision, TDOC is committed to public safety and takes this extra step to monitor offenders under our care.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, TDOC has continued to monitor offenders using virtual reporting, virtual home visits, in-person residence verifications, and in person sex offender treatment verifications.  This year, TDOC has taken extra safety precautions including wearing KN-95 masks underneath cloth masks, wearing double layered disposable gloves that are changed out after each encounter, wearing CDC recommended outerwear, social distancing, and sanitizing between visits.  

While TDOC officers will be out in the community monitoring sex offenders to enhance public safety, parents should keep these tips in mind:

  • Most victims know and trust the person who sexually abuses them.  The most recent statistics in Tennessee (January to June 2020) show that over 50% of the children assisted by their local Child Advocacy Center were abused by a family member or other trusted adult.
  • Many perpetrators “groom” their victims by establishing a trusting relationship with the family.
  • A few ways to help guard against abuse is to be involved in your child’s life.  Ask open-ended questions, show interest in their day, get to know the people in their life, choose caregivers wisely, and know the warning signs.  Teach your children about boundaries and encourage children to speak up
  • Most victims do not display physical signs of abuse but show behavioral signs such as depression, anxiety, anger, withdrawal from normal activities, loss of appetite, substance abuse, self-mutilation, nightmares, and bed wetting.
  • If you are concerned about your child or suspect abuse, contact your local law enforcement, your local child advocacy center, or sexual assault center.
  • Parents can find more information by going to www.rainn.org (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network).

To learn more about Operation Blackout, click on the video link below:

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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