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Marion Co. increasing sexual offender monitoring

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. - A trip to Ocala's Tuscawilla Park is supposed to be care-free, but Angela Emrick watches her young daughter's every move.

She's concerned about the 660 registered sex offenders and predators who live in Marion County. All of them are featured in a flyer published by the sheriff's office.

Now, detectives are being much more aggressive to find offenders who fail to report where they're living.

"That is a huge concern. I think about that a lot. Where they're at, if they're being tracked and monitored. I have a 4-year-old and it's a huge concern wherever we go," Emrick said.

Judge Cochran of the Marion County Sheriff's Office said the law is clear.

"If they're not doing what they're supposed to do, we're going to put them in jail," Cochran said.

Five have been put in jail since the sheriff turned up the heat April 1. Another four were put in jail Friday. The state wants the county sheriffs to visit each registered predator every three months and every offender once a year.

"Well, here at the Marion County Sheriff's Office we're going way beyond that. If it's a predator, we're knocking on their door once every 30 days," Cochran said.

Offenders will get visits every 90 days, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Moms at the park approve.

"It's important for them to be documented and verified. That's important," parent Stephanie Fire-Smith said.

"Someone's got to do it to keep us safe and our children safe. It's great that he's taking the initiative to do more," Emrick said.