Sheriff Gary Long is one of my new heroes. Last Halloween, the Butts County, Georgia, sheriff placed signs outside the homes of sex offenders that read "Warning! No Trick-or-Treat at this address!"

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The sheriff planned to use the same policy this year but is being sued by an angry and distraught group of convicted sex offenders who say the signs violate their rights and are a form of "compelled speech."

The group is taking the sheriff to court to ask that his policy ends. They also expect compensation for damages including emotional suffering. The sex offenders didn't comment about the pain, agony, shame and misery they caused to all the children they violated. I wanted to be sure to get that fact in.

These signs would be valuable here on the SouthCoast, too. As a grandparent, I'd like to know if the home my grandchildren are receiving Halloween candy from is reputable.

Sheriff Long calls it a community safety message. He's right. According to the sheriff, the signs were designed to keep kids safe; however, the sex offenders who filed the lawsuit argue they are a violation of their rights to privacy and have likened the policy to "compelled speech," which violates the First Amendment.

The suit also asks for a trial by jury and calls that the jury award the plaintiffs with compensation for damages including economic harm, emotional distress, and the cost of legal fees.

Thanks to Americans like Sheriff Gary Long who do everything within the law to protect our children. Now let's see if the courts also feel the same way.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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