LIMA, Ohio - A growing number of requests for information about registered sex offenders who might live next door has prompted the Allen County sheriff's office to put offenders' photographs and vital statistics online.
“I think some of it is genuine concern for persons - family, relatives, and friends,” said Sheriff Dan Beck. “And I think part of it is curiosity.”
Whatever the reason, all of the information is a matter of public record, and Sheriff Beck wants that information to be as accessible as possible.
He announced yesterday that residents may now log on to www.icrimewatch.net/allen to see the names, physical descriptions, and photographs of the 80 to 100 registered sex offenders living in the county. Residents also can view a map showing the offender's address.
As part of the new community notification service, residents can register online to receive an e-mail alert whenever a sex offender moves within a mile of their home. There is no cost for the service.
State law requires county sheriffs to notify by certified mail those who live within 1,000 feet of a registered sex offender, and that practice will continue, Sheriff Beck said.
“Every time we send out those letters, we get requests for photographs or more information,” he said, explaining that he hopes those requests will decline once residents realize they can access the information from their home computers.
The state of Michigan lists sex offenders on the Internet, although for a time last summer the Web site was disabled after a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional. The registry was put back on line 21/2 months later. A federal appeals judge ordered it reinstated while the court considered the case of a former state corrections officer who had sex with a female inmate and sued, saying he should not have been on the list.
“This will provide a mechanism for people to tap into the Web site and save us the job of mailing out photographs and other information,” he said. “In the long run, I expect this to save us a fair amount of man hours and postage costs.”
Lucas County Sheriff James Telb said yesterday that the county created its own sex offender Web site about a week ago. He said he planned to announce it to the public next week.
The site includes more than 400 names of registered offenders, as well as their addresses, their sex offender classification, their race and gender, and their ages.