JEFFERSON CITY - More than 1,000 people have already registered to receive email alerts when sex offenders register in their neighborhoods, as part of a system launched by the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Friday.
The alert system, called the Sex Offender Community Notification Program, allows residents to track offenders by two different means. Users can register up to five addresses, designate a radius (anywhere from 500 feet to 5 miles) around those locations and receive updates when an offender registers his home or workplace in the selected area. Additionally, users can track up to five specific offenders and get email alerts within 24 hours if one of them changes his address.
Highway Patrol Lt. John Hotz called the new system "another enhancement" to the state's sex offender registry website. The original online registry was launched in May 2004, and as of September 2005 offers a searchable database with manual search features akin to those incorporated in the email notifications.
According to Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Hull, federal law requires states to implement these public notification systems by July 2011.
"We're ahead of the game here, as far as the deadline for that particular enhancement to our website," Hull said.
Hull said the program had 113 people register within the first few hours after the system went online Friday. As of 9 a.m. on Monday, Hull said that number had reached 1,007.
"I'm sure the closer we get toward the end of the week and Halloween that number is probably going to grow quite rapidly as the word gets out to through the media," Hull said.