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Private Citizens Keeping Tabs On Sex Offenders

I think we will see more and more of these types of sites…set up to show people where sex offenders live and meander and plot and plan. It’s a good thing and the more resources people have, the better they will be able to protect their children. I have to wonder how long it will take groups like the ACLU to start complaining about this. This site is managed by a citizen who is concerned for children, it’s not a government supported or sponsored thing.

A new Web site allows people to search for sex offenders in their area simply by typing in an address.

The site www.familywatchdog.us shows maps of where registered sex offenders live in relation to other homes, businesses and schools. By the end of September, the site will offer searches in 42 states.

Founder Steve Roddel of Westfield began developing the site in April. The idea began after he learned two sex offenders lived near his home and three children. He had not found the information on the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender registry because a street name was misspelled in the directory.

Too many of the online sex offender “registries” are just plain difficult to use. One has to click through five or six pages before they get to the actual page where you type in a zip code, in my state’s site for example. Make it simple and user friendly.

“We wanted to build a system that did not rely on street addresses and spellings,” said Roddel, who has worked in information technology for 25 years.

The Vigo County Task Force on Sexual Predators is delighted with the Web site, which is easy to use.

The task force was formed in June by various law enforcement agencies to search for sex offenders who have not registered after being released from a correctional facility, or have moved without registering.

The Web site serves as “another tool to allow us to continue to monitor sex offenders to make sure they are in compliance,” said Sarah K. Mullican, first deputy prosecuting attorney with the Vigo County prosecutor’s office.

“The site is so much easier to surf through than the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute or the [Indiana] Sheriff’s Association,” said Vigo County Sheriff Jon Marvel. “I will do all I can in order to support them.”

Indiana law requires the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to keep a list of all offenders convicted of a sex or violent crime.

The Family Watchdog Web site uses sex-offender information from sheriff’s associations, the FBI and public data sources, Roddel said.

The Web site will not have information from eight states that do not supply addresses of sex offenders or do not have complete information, Roddel said. The states nearest Indiana who will not be represented are Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he said.

The Web site, which is updated daily, does not charge a fee to perform searches or look at street and aerial maps. Users can pay a fee to receive automatic notification for up to three addresses.

The service only tracks registered sex offenders, which means if a sex offender has not notified their local sheriff’s department that they have moved, the correct address will not be listed.

“We encourage everyone to use it,” Roddel said. “We want to protect everyone’s kids.”

It’s really a good site that is easy to use…These folks should put more efffort into promoting it.

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1 Comment
Seth said:

This must really piss off the ACLU, as it's a damn shame when sex offenders' right to privacy and right to do whatever they please is infringed upon. I wonder what the asshats will try to do.... Sue the website owners and bill the gov't for their legal fees?