• 81°

Sex offenders tracked by technology

Your email address can be a useful tool.

Thanks to new steps taken by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, people in the state can now get email alerts when a sex offender moves into their neighborhood or near their child’s school. North Carolinians can also view maps that pinpoint offenders who live nearby.

“Families and neighborhoods will be able to use these new tools to plan for their safety,” Cooper said. “Knowing more about where offenders live will help communities stay vigilant about safety.”

People who visit the new offender website, which is available at www.ncdoj.com, can search for offenders in their community, view maps and aerial photographs that show offenders’ home addresses, and sign up to get email alerts about offenders in their area.

A search of the site on Wednesday afternoon revealed, for example that there were:

* 16 registered offenders within a five-mile radius of Ahoskie;

* 11 are located within the same five-mile radius around Murfreesboro;

* in the five-mile area around the town of Woodland, there are five registered offenders;

* there are no registered offenders within a five-mile radius of Jackson;

* Windsor has nine registered offenders within a five-mile radius;

* Rich Square has two registered offenders in a five-mile radius;

* there are seven within a five-mile radius of Winton who are registered as sex offenders;

* four offenders who are registered live within a five-mile radius of Aulander;

* six registered offenders live within a five-mile radius of Colerain; and

* there is one registered sex offender within a five-mile radius of Merry Hill.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan and Northampton County Sheriff Wardie Vincent each said they were pleased to see the new tool in place for citizens.

“I think it is a great tool to help citizens know if there is a sex offender in their neighborhood,” Vaughan said.

Vincent agreed.

“I look forward to having citizens have this tool keeping track of sex offenders,” Vincent said. “Everyone wants to keep the public aware of these offenders and these new tools allow them to do that.

“We already keep track of sex offenders, but this will allow citizens to be aware if they are in their neighborhoods,” he closed.

Cabarrus County Sheriff Brad Riley, president of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, said sheriffs play a critical role in registering sex offenders.

“We’re glad that these new safety tools are now available to every community in our state,” he said.

Using the technology can help families, schools and neighborhoods better plan for their safety, according to the attorney general.

For example, when day care operators and school officials receive an email, they can alert their staff and share the offender’s photograph. People can also sign up to get email alerts about a specific registered offender, a new tool that may be helpful for victims and their family members who want to know the location of a particular offender.

In addition, the website’s new advanced mapping technology shows exactly where registered offenders’ addresses are in relation to a given address within a one-mile, three-mile or five-mile radius.

The North Carolina Department of Justice Sex Offender Registry website includes photos, names, addresses and conviction information of registered sex offenders from across the state.

Sex offenders are required by law to register with their local Sheriff’s office and to update the information that is made available to the public through the registry.

The website has long been a valuable tool for communities across the sate since it was launched in 1988. However, a sex offender can change residences and many offenders move frequently.

Thanks to the new site developed by Cooper’s office, users will now be able to learn about offenders in their area without having to continually check the sex offender registry website.

By making the public more aware of the location of registered sex offenders, the program can also help law enforcement crack down on sex offenders who move without providing a new address as required by law.