A projector screen showed an overhead, satellite photograph of a neighborhood somewhere in DeKalb County. A series of red dots spotted the top of a small cluster of trees. In the middle of the trees sat a basic, ranch-style home roughly 30 yards back from a residential street. The red dots represented the movements of a man.
He had walked all over his house that morning. He’d ventured into the backyard, and he’d walked across the street.
He was the red dot, and he was one of DeKalb County’s three registered sexual predators–the worst kind of sexual offender–and 778 other registered sex offenders in the county.
“Those are the ones that we should constantly be on the lookout for and monitor their actions,” DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown said Jan. 6.
It was the introduction of two features the sheriff’s department now uses to track sex offenders throughout the county.
The county now attaches ankle bracelets to sexual predators that allow the department to track their location at all times, Brown said. The signal from the bracelet goes directly to the department, not an outside company.
Former sheriff’s deputy Derrick Yancey fled the country in April after he was charged with murdering his wife and a day laborer. At the time, an outside company was contracted to track his whereabouts. After Yancey cut his bracelet, police were not notified for several hours due to a communication breakdown.
That wouldn’t happen with the most serious offenders, Brown said.
DeKalb County has 781 registered sex offenders – a group that includes a gamut of charges from statutory rape to violent rape and sexual assault.
“We put too much emphasis on the low-level sex offenders, the Romeo and Juliet [relationships],” Brown said.
Nonetheless, the public will be able to track them with a new computer program called OffenderWatch, to which the sheriff’s department recently subscribed. The program includes a database of all the county’s registered offenders. When residents sign up, it notifies them of the locations of sex offenders within a nearby radius.
The program allows residents to register as many addresses into the system as they wish at no cost. Residents can also select the system to alert them when an offender moves to within 1,000 feet of any address.
The sheriff’s department would like to see what Brown labeled “Mrs. Nosies” using the system.
“It’s important to us that the public help us in monitoring these people,” he said.
The Web site is accessible through the sheriff’s department site at dekalbsheriff.org.