For immediate release: Monday, Oct. 17, 2011
PR # 14-2011

SEX OFFENDER LOCATOR NOW AVAILABLE VIA FACEBOOK

With a few clicks, users of the social networking site can get information about medium- and high-risk sex offenders living in their neighborhoods

Facebook users can now access information about medium- and high-risk sex offenders living in their neighborhood, next to their workplace or near their child’s school with just a few clicks – and without leaving the popular social networking site.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) today launched its Sex Offender Locator Application, which is accessible via the New York State Public Safety Facebook page. Facebook users also can share the application to their own pages and encourage their friends to do the same.

DCJS maintains the state’s sex offender registry and a registry subdirectory on the agency’s website that provides information about Level 2 (medium risk) and Level 3 (high risk) sex offenders to the public. The new Facebook application is designed to make that information more readily accessible.

“Knowledge is power. New Yorkers now have another way to access up-to-date information about sex offenders in their neighborhoods,” DCJS Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne said. “With Halloween around the corner, parents now have another tool to learn where offenders live so they can ensure their children stay away from those locations, as well as strangers’ homes. The Facebook app puts that important information at parents’ fingertips, whether they are at home or on the go.”

As of today, there are 32,994 registered sex offenders on the state’s Sex Offender Registry:  12,473 Level 1 offenders; 11,685 Level 2 offenders; 8,163 Level 3 offenders; and 673 offenders whose risk level is pending. County-by-county statistics

“This new app leverages the power of social media to connect New Yorkers to an important resource that can help keep their families safe,” said DCJS Deputy Commissioner Risa Sugarman, who also is director of the agency’s Office of Sex Offender Management. “This tool makes the information available on the Registry much more dynamic and readily accessible, which will enhance community safety.”

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore, president of the District Attorneys’ Association of the State of New York, said:  “The new app is a creative use of technology, bridging the public’s fondness for social media sites like Facebook with their need to have quick and easy access to information to keep their children and families safe from dangerous sex offenders.”

Added Rensselaer County Sheriff Jack Mahar, president of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association:  “The ability to search for sex offenders via Facebook gives both law enforcement and parents another resource to protect children from potential predators.  It will help parents to be informed and aware of possible dangers in their area so they can take an even more proactive role in protecting their families.”

Mechanicville Police Chief Joseph Waldron, president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said: “Our Association applauds the state for the creation of the Sex Offender Locator Application for Facebook. Once again, another outstanding effort as we continue to make New York State one of the safest states in the nation. Enlightened leadership like this will truly make a difference.”

New Yorkers can learn about registered sex offenders in a variety of ways, with an offender’s risk level determining what information is available and how it can be accessed.  By law, the state can only provide information about Level 1 (low risk) offenders or those with a pending risk level through a toll-free number (1-800-262-3257); callers must have an individual’s name and at least one other identifier (an exact address, date of birth, driver's license number or Social Security number) to learn if that person is a registered sex offender in New York.

Home address information about a Level 1 offender is limited to zip code. Complete home and work addresses – street number and name, as well as municipality and zip code – are available for Level 2 and Level 3 offenders.

In addition to providing information about Level 2 and 3 offenders via Facebook and the DCJS website, the state allows New Yorkers to sign up to receive alerts via e-mail, text, fax or telephone whenever those sex offenders move to, or from, a community of interest – their home, work or child’s school, for example. DCJS offers the sex offender relocation notices through the state’s NY-ALERT system; visit www.nyalert.gov and click on the “Sign up for NY-Alerts” link in the left menu to learn more and register.

Individuals can register up to three locations, either by county/municipality, zip code or specific address, or any combination of those three options, for which they would like to receive relocation alerts. More than 12,000 individuals have registered to receive e-alerts since the system went live on March 15, 2010.
           
In 2010, the Sex Offender Registry staff processed more than 37,000 address changes, and on average, 150 new offenders are added to the registry each month. Learn more about the basic obligations of offenders by checking out these Frequently Asked Questions.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

Contact: Jessica Scaperotti or Janine Kava
(518) 457-8828
www.facebook.com/nyspublicsafety