Web site aids in sex offender tracking

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Now with just a few clicks, Lincoln County residents can know ifthere are sex offenders in their neighborhood thanks to a new Website that went on line over the weekend.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department has been working onbuilding a Web presence in recent months, with a primary Web sitestill under construction. However, the sex offender site is nowfunctional.

The site will soon have a direct link, but in the meantime it canbe accessed at www.communitynotification.com.

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Once that page comes up, a map of the United States can be found,and visitors can click on Mississippi. Lincoln is one of threecounties that have put their own sex offender databasesonline.

“This is actually a great thing to have,” said Capt. DustinBairfield, who compiled the data for the site. “I hope everyoneuses it. It’s a good way to know what’s going on in yourneighborhood.”

There’s a link on the site where users can enter their addressesand the site will show how many sex offenders live within a radiusof up to a two miles.

“Or you can just browse it too,” said Sheriff Steve Rushing. “Ifyou just want to look through them, there’s a way to dothat.”

There are still a few glitches to be worked out, officialssaid.

The site shows over 100 offenders, but Rushing said there are onlyabout 50 currently living in the county. Bairfield said that’sbecause the database shows every sex offender that has registeredin Lincoln County.

“But once you pull up the record, you can see where they’re locatednow,” he said, indicating where the database shows the offender’scurrent address. “This just means they passed through LincolnCounty. If they registered here it will show them.”

Meanwhile, there are several options available to Web siteusers.

They can register their address and e-mail and get notifications ofwhen sex offenders in their area are on the go. They can alsoreceive notifications on a specific sex offender if they wantto.

“Dustin keeps it updated, and as someone moves, or as someone newmoves in, it will let you know,” Rushing said, adding that the sitealso has the capability to send mail notifications to everyone in aneighborhood when a sex offender moves into the area.

Bairfield said the site is a great tool for the public, but it isalso very helpful to the sheriff’s department as it keeps track ofhome visits, mailouts and e-mail notifications.

“For us, this saves money because it’s a much more efficient way toorganize these things,” he said. “This does things that LincolnCounty couldn’t do before. This was previously on paper in adrawer, but now we have the ability to more efficiently keep upwith them, plus it complies with the newest and latest guidelinesunder the Adam Walsh Act.”

The database also provides a mainline to the National CrimeInformation Center, as well as the Mississippi Department ofCorrections, both of which will be able to update the site in realtime like the sheriff’s department does.

“This was started to give the community better notification, butalso to help keep us compliant under the new guidelines,” Rushingsaid. “This is a great asset to Lincoln County because not onlydoes it have sex offender information, but it also has safety tipswhere parents can click on links to find safety tips of allkinds.”

Under the “Safety tips” link, there is a section for “CommunityAwareness Fliers,” where parents can find everything from Halloweensafety to safety with fireworks to holiday shopping tips.

The links also talk to parents about what to tell their children toprevent abuse, as well as what warning signs to watch for.

“We’re proud to be able to offer this service,” Rushing said. “Wehope it’ll help keep our citizens more protected and aware ofwhat’s going on in their neighborhoods.”