There's a new tool to track sex offenders in Oneida County. Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente announced Tuesday the sheriff's office is joining the "OffenderWatch" program.
It's already being utilized by more than 1,500 law enforcement agencies nationwide and more than 40 New York agencies.
The "OffenderWatch" program makes the Oneida County sex offender registry available across several local law enforcement and government agency's websites. The easy to use program enables anyone to search for the presence of registered sex offenders and predators in proximity to their homes, workplace, schools and day cares.
You can enter any address and see a map and listing of offenders within a user defined radius. Then, you may register the address to be continuously monitored by the Sheriff and local law enforcement agencies. If an offender or predator should register an address within the specified radius, you will be alerted. Anytime an offender changes their address, a postcard size notification will be mailed out to everyone within the defined radius of the offender.
"There are a great many people out there who don't access the internet, the elderly and many other concerned citizens that maybe don't have the time to go into that depth but now have something in hand that comes to them," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.
The program is expected to be up and running throughout the county within 30 to 60 days. The cost of the program is $10,000 a year.
Not everyone is in favor of making it easier to track all registered sex offenders. Shana Rowan has advocated for fairer approach to sex offender registries through her "USA Fair" organization. Rowan says sending out postcards and alerts can put rehabilitated sex offenders and their families at risk for harassment and even violence.
"It does no good for people to come after them with pitchforks and torches and makes it impossible for them to move on," said Rowan.
Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol says Offender Watch is a valuable tool that will provide better communication for both law enforcement and the public.
"We're not revealing any information that isn't already out there and isn't already public by law. We're just doing it in a much more user friendly manner," said Maciol.