It's that time of the decade again — the federal government is sending out an army of workers to begin taking the 2010 census.
Workers will start by conducting an address survey to make sure every address in America is accounted for so surveys can be mailed to those homes in 2010.
And so, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office is trying to head off calls about strange people cruising neighborhoods or trying to get into gated communities.
"If the census group goes to a gated community, they will call the sheriff's office," said Capt. Pat Woodin, who manages sheriff's operations in South Jeffco. Woodin said she's already arranged with the U.S. Census Bureau office in Denver to call the sheriff's office when representatives are about to enter a gated community. The sheriff's office will send a deputy if one is available so residents are reassured that the operation is legitimate.
Woodin said deputies will verify that the people work for the Census Bureau.
"We're just trying to avoid any alarm or bad things that could come out of this," Woodin said.
Stacy Gimbel, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Census Bureau in Washington, said it will be easy to verify that people are working for the government.
"They'll all have a badge from the Census Bureau and a bag with a logo on it," Gimbel said. "They'll also have a handheld computer."
The workers will not ask to come inside homes, and the process should take no more than a few minutes, Gimbel said. Residents will receive a copy of privacy rules.
"It's really just a quick thing," Gimbel said.
Some residents fear scams in which people pose as census workers to steal personal information or break into homes. Gimbel said she hasn't heard of any cases like that this cycle, but the sheriff's office is sure it will receive at least one such report.
"The crooks will try to find a way to get around the cops," Woodin said, adding that criminals usually come up with schemes to fit nearly every situation. "And with the economy the way it is, they'll do whatever they can."
Any questions about what the U.S. Census Bureau is doing, or whether a census worker is legitimate, can be directed to the bureau's Denver office at 303-264-0202 or the Jeffco Sheriff's Office at 720-377-2001.