Local Law Enforcement Steps Up Efforts To Track Sexual Predators
One of Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Detective Ed Seifert’s responsibilities is to keep track of the 199 sexual offenders currently living in Columbia County. Most of them are out of jail living and working among the public, either under regular parole supervision, on probation, or under community control. Some are fully “released” meaning they report to no case worker or probation officer, but are still required to register as a sex offender or predator and notify law enforcement when they move to a new home.
The sheriff’s office is implementing a new system for tracking each of the county’s offenders, 26 of whom are considered sexual predators by the Florida Department of Corrections.
On Seifert’s laptop computer is a mapping program that features a detailed street map of the county with small dots representing where a sex offender is living. The dots are red for predator or yellow for offender. Looking at the screen, they make up pock-marks throughout the county, with many on the east side of Lake City.
Seifert can zoom in on an area, choose a certain radius at will, and by selecting one of the colored dots, find exactly where the offender lives. The computer lists their name, address and exact Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite coordinates.
Seifert says the sheriff’s office hopes to soon be able to use the program on deputies’ laptop computers so the information will be available to them while on patrol. While not currently available, he says the sheriff’s office would like to eventually put such a map on its agency’s Web site, so people could see exactly where the county’s sex offenders live in relation to them.
For now, people can take an address from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sex offender database and enter it on a Web site like www.mapquest.com to see where an offender lives.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Lake City Reporter (Fla.) (05/03/05) .