HOUSTON — The Houston Police Department is now one of thousands that have joined the national OffenderWatch sex offender network.
HPD said the sharing of information will make it easier to collaborate with other departments on investigations as well as share critical information involving registered sex offenders.
Editor's note: the video in this story is from October 2019 and reports on a sex offender who was allegedly coaching youth sports in North Texas
The OffenderWatch database also offers an app the public can use to track registered sex offenders who live in their community. Their website also allows users to sign up for e-mail alerts about a particular sex offender or when an offender moves into their area.
Users can search for offenders by name or address and view a map of results along with details about that offender.
“By partnering with OffenderWatch, Houston PD will now be able to easily collaborate on investigations and share critical information involving registered sex offenders with not only the Harris County Sheriff's Office, but also with more than 3,000 other local law enforcement agencies across the country. Houston PD monitors more than 6,000 registered sex offenders,” stated HPD in a press release on Wednesday.
HPD joining the national network solves a long-standing problem of agencies across the country using different databases.
“When a registered offender moves from outside the city of Houston in Harris County to a city of Houston address, now registering officers won't have to spend time reentering data-because the offender record is seamlessly shared from one agency to another. All records in OffenderWatch transfer instantly to the new jurisdiction, saving us time and improving data accuracy,” stated Chief of Police Art Acevedo. “With thousands of sex offenders moving in and out of the city and state every year, the new technology can save us time and improve our investigations by searching other agencies files.”
Houston residents can also search for sex offenders or sign up for email alerts on the Houston PD website: https://www.houstontx.gov/police/sex_offender_databases/index.htm
OffenderWatch is the nation's leading sex offender registration solution, with law enforcement agencies in 37 states using the technology and over 15,000 users. Local and state agencies use the software to monitor offenders, communicate with other agency personnel and execute instant community notifications based on a radial address.
It is estimated that by using OffenderWatch, the Houston PD can save more than 2,000 officer hours by instantly sharing records with Harris County and other registering agencies in the metro area. Houston PD will be able to collaborate in real time with other agencies on investigations and offender record details. The system will also automatically update the department's sex offender listings on the website and send email notifications to the public. OffenderWatch also allows the agency to better collaborate on investigations with the U.S. Marshals, Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) teams and other investigators.
“We believe data shared between law enforcement agencies leads to better investigations and safer cities and counties,” said Mike Cormaci, president and co-founder of OffenderWatch. “With Houston joining our network, OffenderWatch now has more than 50 percent of the nation's children covered by our reach—hopefully leading to fewer victims.”
There are more than 900,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. However, agencies often use disparate systems for managing sex offenders. OffenderWatch allows different law enforcement agencies to collaborate on a single offender record, improving accuracy and aiding in public safety.
OffenderWatch will also allow local agencies to easily send real-time alerts to the public when a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood. The service is available at no cost to the public, and people can sign up to receive email or mail notifications associated with any address-at home, school, work, gym, day care, a park, or more.
To learn more about OffenderWatch and sign up for email alerts on offenders, visit www.offenderwatch.com.