Sentinel for SORNA™ Press
- Calhoun Times
Used with permission
At any given time in
America, there are 100,000
unaccounted-for sex offenders, out of
more than 600,000 who should be
Gordon County, working
with map developers, and the county’s
GIS and IT departments can say the
number of unaccounted-for sex offenders
in Gordon County is zero.
“We know where they all
are,” said Brian McClellan, director of
the county’s IT and GIS departments.
It was a joint effort
between the Sheriff’s Office, the
county, and school officials to get a
handle on the 118 sex offenders residing
in Gordon County.
Clent Harris, chief
deputy, said it started almost a year
ago when President George Bush signed
into effect the Adam Walsh Child
Protection Law, requiring sex offenders
to live and work more than 1,000 feet
from any place children congregate.
Before they could decide how to best
monitor the situation, a law firm filed
an open records request wanting to see
the location of the county’s bus stops –
one of the most contested aspects of the
They contacted Geary
Cooper, director of transportation, who
said he had received the same request
and already sent the information to
them. He then showed McClellan and
Harris the program he used.
“It documented which bus
stop, which kids got on and off there,
and their parents’ contact information,”
McClellan said. “We knew we could use
that system to track sex offenders.”
The program needed some
modifications, and Cooper gave them the
contact information for the developers.
Joe and Tom Canepa quickly got behind
the project and in November, delivered
the final product, called SORT – Sex
Offender Registration and Tracking
In the eight months it
has been used, 69 sex offenders have
been in violation of the law, 31 were
notified they needed to relocate, and 38
had to change employment. There have
also been 36 warrants issued, 29
arrested and 10 absconded.
Those absconded don’t
mean they are missing, according to Bill
Soulios, the sex offender investigator
for the Sheriff’s Office.
“They may have been
picked up on other charges and are
accounted for there,” he said.
They have even gone as
far as Grand Rapids, Mich., to arrest
sex offenders, he said.
The program uses
geographical information system to
determine 1,000 and 1,500 feet perimeter
where a sex offender lives or works and
compares it to those same distances
around those areas children can
congregate. Included in the list are
schools, daycares, churches, parks,
bowling alleys, and pool places. If the
1,000 feet perimeters overlap, the
offender is in violation.
In one instance, a sex
offender was in violation of four places
because he lived near a school, church
and park. Only once or twice did the
distance have to physically be measured,
McClellan said. The county also verifies
the distance using their own GIS system.
The program compiles a
report that shows which offenders are in
violation so the sheriff’s office or
probation office can handle it. In the
future, the county would like to upgrade
the program to include tracking serious
crime to help assign patrol zones, to
track search and rescue teams, and to
generate a Web site automatically with
the sex offender registry since the
county has to maintain a separate one
from the city. The program can also be
used to help law enforcement make
tactical and strategic plans in the case
of an emergency.
“We are here to protect
and serve. Protecting has become quite a
bit involved,” Soulios said.