AG’s ‘Operation Safe Shelter’ Checks 3,300 Evacuees During Ike

September 18, 2008

Since Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott launched Operation Safe Shelter last Thursday, law enforcement personnel manning the hotline have compared 3,300 names of people in Hurricane Ike evacuation centers to the state’s sex offender database.

The Attorney General’s office is now working with local law enforcement officials to help protect evacuees who remain in shelters, Abbott said.

“Although Hurricane Ike has passed, thousands of Texans remain in emergency shelters, which continue sending names to the Operation Safe Shelter operations center,” Abbott said.

The AG’s Office launched the new emergency service just before Hurricane Ike struck the Texas Gulf Coast area. To aid emergency shelters, raise awareness and protect evacuees, the hotline operated 24 hours a day to handle shelter personnel’s inquiries about whether evacuees are registered sex offenders. Now that Hurricane Ike has left Texas, the hotline will now operate from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., until further notice.

When evacuation shelters contact the Safe Shelter Hotline at 866-385-0333, law enforcement officials with the AG’s office will access and report information from the state’s registered sex offender database. That information is designed to help shelter personnel determine whether any of their evacuees are included on the Department of Public Safety’s sex offender registry.

To ensure thorough database searches, callers need to be prepared to provide evacuees’ names, addresses and dates of birth. Shelter managers can use this information as needed to coordinate specialized housing arrangements or take other action as appropriate.

“Operation Safe Shelter has helped protect hurricane evacuees by ensuring that emergency personnel are properly informed when registered sex offenders are present in shelters,” Abbott said. “With tens of thousands of evacuees still seeking refuge in evacuation shelters, I encourage shelter personnel to continue utilizing this resource. We are grateful to Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the staff at the State Operations Center for their assistance and hard work during this emergency situation.”

In addition to the toll-free telephone number, emergency shelters will be provided an e-mail address and fax line that they can use to submit evacuee information to the AG’s office.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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