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Galloway presser

State Auditor Nicole Galloway holds a press conference on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, to share findings of an audit of the Missouri Sex Offender Registration system. Photo by Erin Heffernan, eheffernan@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis police department has reduced the number of unregistered sex offenders in the city by more than two-thirds following a critical audit last fall, according to a report released Monday by Missouri Auditor Nicole Galloway.

St. Louis had among the highest rate of sex offenders who had failed to register with the state, Galloway said in an October 2018 audit of Missouri’s registry, which found that police had lost track of 19.3% of registered sex offenders living in the city, the fourth-highest rate in the state.

By February this year, however, the city reduced that rate to 12.5%, the ninth-highest rate in the state, according to the new report. The number of unregistered sex offenders fell from 244 to 156, according to the report.

During the 2018 audit review, the St. Louis police department’s Sex Offender Unit had been understaffed, a department spokesman told the Post-Dispatch in October. The unit had been operating with one detective and a clerk, but added another officer a few weeks before Galloway’s audit was released this fall.

The department also conducted a compliance check with the U.S. Marshals Service in June on more than 500 offenders.

Statewide, the number of unregistered offenders fell from 1,259 or 8% in May 2018 to 914 or 6% in February, according to Monday’s report. The auditor’s office attributed more than half of that decrease to reductions in St. Louis and Jackson County, which includes parts of Kansas City.

The number of unregistered offenders was already significantly down from 2002, when an audit showed about 36% of known sex offenders in Missouri weren’t registering.

The auditor’s office attributed the statewide improvements to increased follow-up by law enforcement and better data management. The number of arrest warrants for noncompliant offenders had also increased since the 2018 audit and the Missouri Highway Patrol changed its sex offender registry system in an attempt to improve accuracy.

Galloway’s audit did not compare Missouri’s offender compliance to other states, but other places have done similar reports. A 2018 audit in Wisconsin, for example, showed the state didn’t have current information on about 11% of its sex offenders.

To read the new report and get county-by-county statistics visit auditor.mo.gov.

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