Aug 23, 2012 9:00 PM by Ian Cross & Lupita Murillo
TUCSON - Police are going high-tech to keep track of sex offenders - the Tucson Police Department is among the first agencies in the country to link to a new nationwide database.
The site is called Offender Watch, and it goes online this week. The new, user-friendly interface allows users to find sex offenders within a two-mile radius of their address with the click of a mouse.
"We've gone to an online, web-based, very real-time program for managing those sex offender records," said Sgt. Doug Foster, who heads TPD's Crimes Against Children Unit. He's been working on the new system for the last year.
"It's crucial," he said. "We need to know where these individuals are, we need to have a mechanism that is more instantaneous, has a better means of communications."
Five thousand law enforcement agencies are currently linked to Offender Watch. In the past, it would take anywhere from days to weeks before registered sex offenders were entered in the database. Paperwork was faxed, or sent by mail.
Another benefit of Offender Watch: the public can go online and register to get email alerts regarding offenders in their area.
"The public can get actively engaged and be more proactive in their own research as to who's living around them, so the public can be more aware of their surroundings," Sgt. Foster said.
At Casita Feliz daycare, they already have numerous security measures in place. Offender Watch is another layer of security they will be using.
"The safety of our children is our number one priority," said Jack Floriant, with Casita Feliz. "We can't stress enough our staff is constantly trained on safety."
You can register as many addresses as you want, such as home, school, or work, and if you choose, you'll be notified the minute a sex offender moves in.