OffenderWatch tracks sex offenders

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Free service available through Sheriff’s Office

By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

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The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office partnered with a public notification program that will allow citizens to identify the locations of potentially dangerous sex offenders.Through the department’s partnership with OffenderWatch, a nationwide network of more than 5,000 law enforcement agencies, residents can see where offenders are located within a certain radius — between 0.25 and 5 miles — of a particular address on a digital map. Upon reaching the web-site’s landing page and clicking “search for offenders in your area,” residents can type in an address to see, on a map,where offenders reside.

Residents need no login information to access the website or any of its information. Should they choose, residents can confidentially register to be alerted by email if, or when, an offender registers at a nearby address. Officials say that residents can register as many addresses as they want for free.

Citizens can also search the website for a particular offender by name, as well as view how many offenders reside in a particular town.The department will update the site in real time as information is reported. Information about the offenders, along with their pictures, is also provided on the website; for example their age, height and hair color, list of offenses, conviction date and age of their victims.

The information will also state whether or not the criminal has met compliance expectations.While the program was sought out to help ease residents’ anxieties, the sheriff’s office also uses the site to identify whether or not offenders’ addresses violate any safety buffers that areset up around protected institutions like schools, daycare centers and parks.

The Natchitoches Times is publishing the OffenderWatch list for a 5 mile radious around their office, located at 904 South Drive, twice per year as a public service. Only convicted offenders are listed.

Visit www.npsheriff.org