Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter
January 3, 2014
The public can now download a mobile app that can help identify the nearest sex offender, and Elkin police stand behind the technology.
“Any information law enforcement can put in the hands of the public regarding sex offenders is a good thing. It takes a village to raise a child. It also takes the public being vigilant to help us protect children from sex offenders,” said Capt. Kim Robison of the Elkin Police Department.
“Before the download, the public could access the information through the state’s website. The new app, we have found, will only allow the user to get information on an offender within a five-mile radius of the phone’s GPS information. Therefore, the phone’s GPS needs to be activated. However, with the new app, information will be accessible to anyone with the supported mobile devices. This will assist law enforcement officers in their investigations of offenders who violate the law much more quickly,” said Robison.
Apple and Android device users can simply visit ncdoj.gov and the download is free.
The app contains an interactive map with information about each individual sex offender. Red flags on the screen indicate the homes of registered sex offenders. Clicking on a flag brings up the name and address of that offender. Users also can see a photo of the registered sex offender, a physical description and access a list of the crimes that put the offender on the registry.
The app was developed by the Department of Justice’s information technology staff using information submitted by local sheriffs to the NC Sex Offender Registry. The statewide registry is maintained by the State Bureau of Investigation and lists more than 20,000 registered sex offenders, all of whom are required by law to maintain up-to-date information on their location with their local sheriff’s office.
Many sex offenders frequently change residences, and the app allows North Carolinians to receive up-to-date information no matter where they are in the state.
However, the tool is not perfect. Some sex offenders often evade identity by using an alias.
In Elkin, Nigel Garcia, a volunteer coach for the Elkin Recreation Center and convicted sex offender from California, was nabbed by police last July after it was discovered Garcia was wanted for additional charges in California. According to police and to evade detection, Garcia used an alias in Elkin by the name of David Quiroga. Police extradited Garcia to California.
“The app is not a lie detector test,” said a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Justice. “If offenders lie about their identity, they’re subject to severe charges.”
Garcia returned to Elkin a week later only to be snagged by the Elkin Police Department, which charged him with sex offender on child premise, identify theft and obtaining property by false pretense.
Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.