Hannon ‘Likes’ Facebook app to track sex offenders
Social media already can be used in a multitude of ways, but the New York Senate is ensuring that social media can also be used as a safety tool.
Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau) announced that the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) sex offender locator application is now be available via Facebook. Users can easily access information about Level 2 (moderate-risk) and Level 3 (high-risk) offenders living in their neighborhoods.
“The state recognizes that Facebook is pretty much the standard social medium now,” said Phil Hecken, director of communications for Sen. Hannon. “This will allow Facebook users to have easy access to an online database that has already been in existence but which many may not have been aware.”
The database provides detailed information about Level 2 and Level 3 offenders including their pictures, complete home and work addresses, information about conviction charges, distinguishable scars and tattoos, aliases and the type of cars they drive. As per New York state law, only zip code information is available for low-risk (Level 1) offenders online. Anyone seeking information about a Level 1 offender must call the DCJS directly.
“The database is simply a way of notifying the public of any convicted sex offender who resides in neighborhoods,” said Hecken. “I think having this information will make parents feel safer.”
In addition to how much and what sort of information is revealed, offenders’ levels determine how long they are required to remain on the registry. The courts decide the level in which to place a person and if that person should be designated as a sexual predator, a sexually violent offender or a predicate sex offender.
“A Level 1 offender with no designations is required to register for 20 years,” said Janine Kava, deputy director of public information for DCJS. “Level 2 and Level 3 offenders…and Level 1 offenders with designations…are required to register for life.”
Geneva Dobbins, a resident of the Bronx, said she thought the Facebook application was a very useful idea.
“It gives people a chance to look up sex offenders in their area,” she said. “I looked it up myself and found that there are quite a few living in my neighborhood. People need to be more vigilant and aware about who is living next door to them. I would definitely recommend this to parents.”
Dobbins also said she was impressed at how easy it was to find the information she was seeking. Users can locate offenders by simply searching a last name, zip code or county.
The sex offender locator application can be found on New York State Public Safety’s Facebook page.