Saturday, July 29, 2017

Another Virginia State Police Internal Policy Change that Directly Affects All Registered Sex Offenders But No Notice was Given to the RSO’s

Yesterday I was advised that the Virginia State Police (VSP) is no longer sending out a certified letter advising Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders(RSO) that their official VSP photograph is due to be retaken. 

Just a reminder to readers, the Virginia State Police is the official owner of the VA Sex Offender Registry/database and they are the  dedicated authority to monitor and manage Virginia’s Registered Sex Offenders who are NOT incarcerated or under VA-DOC Probation supervision. Local authorities (police and sheriff’s) can take RSO re-registrations, photos and data changes but the local authorities send all of that to the VSP to confirm and enter into the VSP Registry. 

This post is to alert VA’s RSO’s of this 2017 VSP policy change because yet again the VSP isn’t notifying the RSO’s of an internal policy that directly affects them and a large part of my advocacy has become notifying VA RSO’s and their loved ones of the ever-changing RSO policies, bans, requirements, restrictions, mandates and laws. 

I received an email from an RSO on 07/28 stating that he never received his letter from the VSP advising him to renew his VSP Registry photograph. 

Per § 9.1-904. Reregistration every VA RSO “must submit to be photographed every 2 years”. 

Now, for those who are NOT on the VSP Registry, you’re probably thinking OK, that’s easy to remember, go get your photograph taken at the same time every two years, aaaahhhhhh but it isn’t. 

Let me give you some background on re-registration timeframes and VSP photographs so you’ll understand the issue better. 

1.    In Virginia depending on your conviction you re-register in VA every 90 days, every 180 days or once per year. Now if you have ever had a failure-to-register conviction you actually must re-register every 30 days. Less than 17% of the VSP Registry re-registers once per year so that means more than 83% are multiple times per year and because it’s based on # of days it’s never the same month or time of month so “remembering” when you are due next isn’t so easy. 

2.   When RSO’s originally register they submit to be photographed so their original photograph date should be the basis for the 2 year renewal even though a re-registration may never fall on that date again (for the 90 and 180 day folks), right? No. 

Per § 46.2-330. (changes were made in 2008) section F The VA-DMV shall electronically transmit application information, including photographs, to the Department of State Police for an Registered Sex Offender. 

What does this mean? 

Well as my husband found out October 15, 2013 when he went to the VSP for his annual re-registration and to submit to his VSP 2 year photo they refused to take his photo even though it was time. Why did they refuse? Because when he had renewed his VA-DMV drivers license back in July (because it’s only valid for 5 years as an RSO instead of the standard 8 years) the VSP took his new VA-DMV photo and posted that on the VSP Registry and recalculated his next photo due date as an arbitrary day in July 2015. That meant in 2015 my husband would have to take a trip to the VSP twice, once in July for his photo and then again in October for his official re-registration. How was this better, smarter or cheaper? It's isn't. 2 separate VSP employees would have to give my husband time in 2015 to comply with VA law and then two other VSP employees would have to enter that data into the VSP Registry database. at two separate times Only because I raised holy-hell did my husbands photo get reposted in October 2013 to sync his due dates back up so that only one visit to the VSP would be required in 2015 and then again in 2017, 2019 and so on. BUT almost every other RSO in VA has had their VSP photograph date moved to an arbitrary time of the year when they last made a trip to the VA-DMV and it will happen again when they renew in 5 years. This means additional trips into the VSP, additional VSP employees dedicating their time and in the end more costs to the Commonwealth. 

This is why a letter prior to the photograph due date for Virginia’s RSO’s is necessary, because no one can actually know if the VSP is counting the last VSP photo or the last VA-DMV photo. 

So yesterday I called the VSP and I asked about the change in policy and the Lieutenant that I spoke to had no knowledge of the change but said they’d email me an answer.

Instead in about an hour later I received a call from a different VSP employee I wrote down their name but did not note their rank. They told me that the letters for photograph renewals were stopped as of March 29, 2017, about 3.5 weeks before the $1.9 Million malware attack. I asked why and they said it was to save money 

They then advised me that a photograph due date is noted on the back of the regular re-registration letters (SP236-A form) that goes out every 30, 90, 180 days or annually. I said yes but if your last re-registration letter was in October and your photograph is due the following June most people aren’t going to remember seeing that on the back of the October letter and since the VSP stopped giving RSO’s copies of completed/submitted re-registration letters as a receipt back in 2015 it’s not like they have the old letter to reference. Then he replied well it’s not a felony so it’s not a problem for them. 

I then asked if the RSO’s photograph due date passes by and the RSO doesn’t come in will their VSP Trooper/Compliance Officer call them or will a letter THEN be sent? His reply was that the RSO might get a call or their Trooper/Compliance Officer might just use that opportunity to do one of the two residency checks and show up unannounced and take a photograph right then, I then replied that doesn’t make a good use of their time if a residency check was just done a month or so ago and there’d be a very good chance the RSO might not be presentable for a photograph to be taken whereas if they are coming into a VSP location knowing they are getting their photo taken they would be. 

So in summary no more letters advising our RSO’s their VSP photographs are about to expire and be prepared they may show up at your home with a camera ready to take your picture even if you’ve been mowing the lawn or mulching your flower beds or they make an extra trip to your residence for the photo and you aren’t even home, that’s time and money well spent. 

Pay attention to your next re-registration letter, look on the back for your next photo due date and mark it down on a calendar or in your phone. If you think it’s coming up and no re-registration letter is due to arrive go visit the VSP Registry and search for yourself/loved one, under their posted photo is the date of the last photograph and add 2 years from that day and that’s your next due date.

Mary Davye Devoy

More information on VSP “policies” and issues: 

I’ve been making recommendations on how the VSP could save money and employee time with the VSP Registry for years and every recommendation and issue I’ve raised has been ignored. And yes, I’ve even recommended eliminating the VSP Letters to move towards a Rotating/Repeating Re-registration System BUT first VA Code would need to be amended and then RSO’s would need to be notified.  

Here are just a few of the VSP issues I’ve encountered and/or recommendations I’ve made in just the last 3 years (in numerical order not recommendation v. issue):
·                       Jul 30, 2014          
·                       September 28, 2014
·                       May 20, 2015        
·                       August 28, 2015   
·                       October 24, 2015 
·                       December 13, 2015
·                       May 4, 2016          
·                       March 4, 2016      
·                       July 1, 2016           
·                       October 14, 2016 
·                       March 18, 2017     
·                       March 20, 2017    
·                       June 17, 2017        
·                       July 5, 2017            

Other Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry “Policy” Changes that RSO’s were NOT notified of:
·                   In 2009 The Virginia State Police added the Employers name and full address of every RSO’s VSP Registry listing.
·                   Somewhere between 2010 and 2012 (I can’t find the exact date)the Virginia State Police removed the next re-registration date from every RSO’s VSP Registry listing making it more difficult for RSO’s to know when to expect their re-registration letter which have been known to be lost by the Post Office.
·                   In 2015 the Virginia State Police locations stopped making copies of the re-registration forms with the date showing the RSO complied per law for the RSO to retain as proof.
·                   On March 29, 2017 the Virginia State Police stopped sending certified letters to RSO’s advising them of their 2 year photograph due date coming up.