Thursday, September 11, 2008

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Alert: Attorney General Abbott Activates Operation Safe Shelter For Hurricane Ike

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today launched Operation Safe Shelter, a new emergency service that will provide registered sex offender information to evacuation shelter personnel. With Hurricane Ike moving rapidly toward Texas, multiple counties have issued evacuation orders and shelters across the state are expected to provide refuge to thousands of fleeing Gulf Coast residents. To aid emergency shelters, raise awareness and protect evacuees, the Office of Attorney General has established a 24-hour a day, toll-free emergency hotline that will allow shelter personnel to inquire whether evacuees are registered sex offenders.

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Operation Safe Shelter

View Video of News Conference

When evacuation shelters contact the Safe Shelter Hotline at (866) 385-0333, law enforcement officials with the Office of the Attorney General will access and share information from the state’s registered sex offender database. That information will help shelter personnel determine whether any of their evacuees are included on the Department of Public Safety’s sex offender registry. To ensure thorough database searches, callers need to provide evacuees’ names, addresses and dates of birth. Shelter managers can use this information as necessary to coordinate specialized housing arrangements or take other action as appropriate.

“During disasters and times of crisis, emergency shelters provide a safe refuge for fleeing evacuees,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The Safe Shelter Hotline will help ensure that emergency volunteers and staff are properly informed when registered sex offenders are present in their shelters. We are grateful to Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the staff at the State Operations Center for their assistance.”

Effective immediately, the Safe Shelter Hotline will be operational 24 hours a day and will continue until emergency conditions subside. In addition to the telephone number listed above, emergency shelters will be provided an e-mail address and fax line that they can use to submit evacuee information to the OAG. Operation Safe Shelter reflects a cooperative effort between the OAG, Department of Public Safety, State Operations Center and Homeland Security Director Steve McCraw. More information can be found at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/hurricane.

The Office of the Attorney General also announced extended hours during the emergency for its Consumer Complaint Hotline, (800) 252-8011. Consumers can call the hotline between the extended hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to report price gouging on necessities, including groceries, clothing, medical supplies, lodging, repair work and fuel during and after such crises.