The Oklahoma City Police Department pulled off a social media coup on July 7. “Meet the top 10 most wanted individuals being sought by our Sex Offender Registration Unit,” the department posted on its Facebook page. “It’s important we keep tabs on these guys (and gal), so help us find them.” The post engaged a huge number of readers, receiving 1,500 shares and nearly 500 comments.
Told dangerous people were loose on city streets, readers responded. “[She] works at [a local store] I’m fucking sick!” posted one. Shadowproof is withholding this individual’s name and place of work to protect them from retaliation.
Others had their own solutions: “If I spot any I’ll send you the parts.” “Should just chalk these guys up as losses. Let the people deal some justice.” “Take them out back and shoot them.”
The department hasn’t clearly explained how it chose its top 10. At least six were convicted of a sexual crime that happened 10 or more years ago and haven’t been convicted of a new one, according to state information. Their names are published in the state’s sex-offense registry, alongside their photos, personal and workplace addresses, and other information.
No one on the “top 10 most wanted” list was accused of a repeat sexual crime, it appears.
The logic behind these operations is simple: registrants who don’t update their information pose an imminent threat. But there’s no evidence to support that logic, and law enforcement may have other purposes in mind.
Filling jails and prisons with people for failing to do paperwork seems like a particularly bad move as more than 242,000 people behind bars have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 1,400 inmates and corrections officers have died, according to the New York Times.