Press-Republican

March 24, 2013

Sex-offender tracking improves

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — A computer-based service already in use in Clinton County will enable Franklin County residents to better track sex offenders’ whereabouts and status.

Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill is preparing to launch Offender Watch next month.

It’s another tool the community has to protect children, he said, and since it has worked so well in Clinton and St. Lawrence counties, he wanted Franklin County to get on board.

Essex County has heard a presentation about the program, and Sheriff Richard Cutting is gathering more information about its costs before going back to the Board of Supervisors for possible action, said Sheriff’s Department Major David Reynolds.

Clinton County has 260 registered sex offenders; Franklin County, about 140; and Essex County, 135.

PINPOINTS AREAS

The Louisiana-based Offender Watch system uses global-positioning-system technology to map a community and highlight places where children might congregate, such as schools, churches and playgrounds.

Clinton County Sheriff David Favro said users can go to a web page exclusively designed for their county, sign up to see where sex offenders live in their community and request an email if an offender moves into or out of a particular neighborhood or area.

“Say your address is 20 Smith St.,” he said. “The program will map out a half-mile perimeter that will be set up on the map.”

If any sex-offender changes occur, an email alert is sent.

Creating zones to be watched is also helpful for parents who drop their kids off at grandparents’ homes or at day-care centers so they can know what predators may be nearby.

Favro said the system stimulates discussion among family members because parents can tell their children what homes in a neighborhood to avoid.

FASTER DATA

He said Offender Watch is a little better than the sex-offender registry the State Department of Criminal Justice Services runs because it has real-time activity, meaning as soon as information on a sex offender is entered into the computer system by a policing agency, the information is updated and available on Offender Watch.

Anyone can sign up for updates, including child-care providers, churches and school officials.

“It helps them because it is their responsibility to keep updated and stay on top of things, especially if it’s a new person who comes into the area, to know where they live and keep an eye on them,” Favro said.

COSTS

Clinton County’s program costs about $7,000 a year, but none of the money comes from taxpayers, the sheriff said.

It is paid through a percentage of fees generated when inmates make collect calls out of the facility.

Franklin County’s system would cost about $3,000, with the money also coming from inmate-calling fees, Mulverhill said.

Reynolds said no figures have been completed for Essex County and that Cutting might also use the same kind of funding.

“If he can, he will,” Reynolds said.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com

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ON THE WEB 

Find Clinton County's Offender Watch program at http://www.clintoncountygov.com/departments/sheriff/sheriffhome.html and choosing the red and black Offender Watch icon in the upper right corner of the page.