BELTON (April 9, 2013)--The Bell County Sheriff's Department officially passed a milestone after introducing its newest division.
Sheriff Eddy Lange unveiled the department's new 'Special Crimes Unit' Tuesday morning; it's the first time since the department's inception in 1850 that a special crimes unit has been put into effect.
Lange appointed Lt. Michele Cianci as head of the division. Cianci has 20 years under her belt with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Cianci told News 10 that the 'Special Crimes Unit' will have a laundry list of responsibilities.
Their chief responsibilities will focus on sex offender registration and compliance, sex crimes investigations and prosecutions, human trafficking, criminal interdiction, criminal street gangs, fugitive apprehension, and polygraph examinations.
Cianci told News 10 that she and other deputies will focus largely on sex offender registration and compliance, as well as fugitive apprehension.
According to the DPS Sex Offender registry, 653 registered sex offenders are living in Bell County.
The Bell County Sheriff's Department monitors 143 of those offenders.
Cianci will be in charge of keeping an extensive and up-to-date database for those offenders, another first for the department.
"We will have the deputies and the manpower to go and check on these offenders at their homes," Cianci said.
"It's a great way to verify the fact that those offenders are living and working where they say they are. The more we know, the safer our citizens are."
When it comes to fugitive apprehension, the 'Special Crimes Unit' will tackle the estimated 9,000 un-served warrants within the Bell County Sheriff's Department. Out of those warrants, 1,000 are felony warrants.
Cianci and her division will soon sift through those unserved warrants and start arresting fugitives.
"The sheriff's department in the past had not been proactive in apprehending and searching for these offenders," Cianci said.
"Those fugitives that have not been caught, well the time has come...we're coming after you."