New site allows County residents to monitor sex offenders

New site allows County residents to monitor sex offenders

Sheriff Barry Virts in cooperation with the Clyde, Lyons, Macedon, Newark, Palmyra, Sodus, Sodus Point and Wolcott Police Departments announced the startup of the most innovative and collaborative national sex offender program, OffenderWatch®.

OffenderWatch® manages and allows law enforcement and citizens to monitor registered sex offenders in Wayne County. This information sharing provides all law enforcement agencies all the information concerning sex offender movements, history and activities anywhere in the county, state or country. Soon, all agencies in the state are expected to be on-line.

When an offender is registered with the Sheriff’s Office or a Police Department, that information is immediately and electronically made available to the managing agency where the offender lives, such as the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and Police Departments – this can save agencies several weeks previously spent waiting on paper forms.

Wayne County Sheriff’s Office deputies will contact and interview the offender, verify their address, collect additional data, arrange the community notification, and verify that the address does not violate a safety buffer. All data collected about the offender is now housed in an electronic, internet accessible form, so any law enforcement officer who needs the information about the offender, or has information to share, can access the record. Also, all data collected on the offender follows with him as he moves from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, enabling much more effective supervision by law enforcement.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is also making OffenderWatch® available on their web site, a citizen-friendly, very easy to use, sex offender registry, enabling citizens to search for the presence of registered sex offenders in proximity to their homes, place of work, schools and day cares. The OffenderWatch® database enables citizens anywhere in Wayne County, plus OffenderWatch® participating neighboring jurisdictions, to see maps and get email notifications concerning offenders near any address important to them.

Citizens can also enter any address of interest to them, and see a map and listing of offenders within their preferred radius of that address. In addition, Wayne County residents may confidentially register their home address to be continuously monitored by the agency. The police will then send them an email alerting them if an offender or predator should register an address within the radius of their address. Usually, citizens will register their homes, work addresses, parks, playgrounds, schools or other addresses of interest to them.

Citizens may also confidentially register to be notified if a specific offender, who they wish to track, moves from his/her present address. Citizens may register as many addresses as they like, at no cost to them.
“We’re providing this information to inform residents, not to frighten them,” said Chief Deputy Bob Hetzke. “Our goal for 2013 is to increase electronic communication with county residents” Sheriff Barry Virts.

The initial investment in OffenderWatch® was a $1000 fee for the setup and a $7000 annual upkeep charge that the Sheriff accounted for in his budget.

Many counties are already onboard with OffenderWatch® including Seneca, Ontario and Yates.

Citizens may access the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office OffenderWatch® Community Web Page 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week at the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office’s web site at http://www.sheriffalerts.com/ny/wayne or the Times website at waynetimes.com