iPhone app locates registered sex offenders

iPhone app locates registered sex offenders


by RAD BERKY / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Rad: RBerky@WCNC.com

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc


Posted on November 19, 2009 at 7:37 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When she arrived at Latta Park one recent morning with her two little ones, Susan Frye saw something that bothered her.

"As we pulled up in the parking lot, there was a car with an individual alone, just sitting, and that was a little disconcerting," Frye said.

NewsChannel 36 showed Frye an iPhone equipped with an application that is now one of the top 10 downloaded apps. It showed a map and a list of every known sex offender living around Latta Park.

Seeing the list, Frye said, "That's frightening."

Anyone can check the sex offender registry from a home computer to see who is living in the immediate neighborhood. The sex offender app is for people like Frye and other parents who bring their kids blocks or even miles away to a favorite park.

The app offers, along with the map and list of names of offenders, a list of the crimes they committed, and even a picture.

Over at Freedom Park, Greg Horton said he already had the app on his iPhone.

"I think it's fantastic," Horton said. "We use it at home, use it when we are out and about. We don't use it when we are downtown though because they all live at the jail."

He is right. NewsChannel 36 showed the app to Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chip Bailey, whose office is directly across the street from the jail.  Many of the offenders that popped up had the jail as their address.

"I'm pretty impressed," said the sheriff. "It's very fast."

Bailey said his office does a pretty good job of keeping up the information that eventually winds up on the phone, but he says no system is perfect.

Sometimes offenders have died, or moved or never registered at all.

"What we don't know are the folks who have moved in and failed to register, and usually we find out about these cases from somebody else," said the Sheriff.

While it does offer the ability to put the names, faces and addresses of sex offenders right in the hands of parents, wherever they are, the sheriff says whoever uses it should remember it is not foolproof.

"It's just like anything else. It's a good tool to use but don't trust it explicitly for your safety," he said.