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Monroe County launches new public sex offender tracking tool

Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn (center) announces the implementation of Offender Watch tracking system.

A new, important tool to keep families safe is now available to the public at the click of a mouse.

At a news conference Wednesday, Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn and area law enforcement introduced Offender Watch, an electronic management system and community notification tool to tell residents the exact whereabouts of sex offenders in their neighborhood.

Anyone can query a general location, or sign up and receive email notifications when a sex offender has moved into their area. O’Flynn said Offender Watch is different from past systems, because the updates are quicker and it is now easier to share information between jurisdictions.

"If someone comes in from another state, not only does it carry their information to the new location, but any notes or information that the law enforcement agencies have done in their former community will then be transferred and provide added security," said O'Flynn.

Offender Watch is used by more than 3, 500 police agencies and in 36 cities across the United States.

Monroe County transitioned to using the new technology a year ago, and O’Flynn said the department has been working through the bugs and kinks until now.

"As law enforcement officers, our number one priority is to protect our citizens and further protect the most vulnerable in our community:  our children," O'Flynn said.

Before Offender Watch, residents could look up where they live on the state sex offender registry, but there have been concerns that people weren’t being notified in a timely manner.

Joe Gauthier, director of sales and marketing for Offender Watch, said the tool will bring the notification process and tracking sex offenders into the 21st century.

"It's getting ready to be summer. Kids are going to be at public pools all over the place, they're going to be sleeping at different friends’ houses. Do you know who lives in that neighborhood?" asked Gauthier.

You can access the sex offender database from the Monroe County Sheriff's website, by clicking a link on the right side of the page. 

Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.