LAFAYETTE, La. (10/16/2019) — The Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and OffenderWatch came together today at a press conference to unveil a new app designed to keep Louisiana’s children away from sexual predators.
According to the Covington, LA based OffenderWatch, their new Safe Virtual Neighborhood app monitors your child’s Snapchat activity to see if a registered sex offender makes contact with your child’s device or if your child’s device lingers near a sex offenders address for a period of time.
Watch the video above to see this morning’s full press conference.
OffenderWatch has partnered with all registering law enforcement agencies in Louisiana to offer the app to Louisiana families and community members.
“Our mission is to help law enforcement better protect communities from sexual predators, so we’re constantly innovating to offer new solutions to improve safety online and in neighborhoods,” said Mike Cormaci, president and co-founder of Covington-based Watch Systems, parent company of OffenderWatch. “As predators continue to groom and solicit children online, we’re helping law enforcement and families combat these efforts before it becomes a tragedy. If Safe Virtual Neighborhood helps to save one child from abuse, it’s worth it.”
Online safety has been a challenge for both law enforcement and technology companies for years—but now OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood is helping to bridge the gap. In fact, one in five teens has received an unwanted sexual solicitation online, according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center. In 2018, most of the more than 18 million tips reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children dealt with apparent child sexual abuse images. online enticement, including “sextortion”, child sex trafficking, child sexual molestation.
“Online safety is a huge problem today. Parents need to be vigilant of what websites they’re children are visiting and educate their children about not talking to strangers online,” said Sheriff Greg Champagne of St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office. “I’m proud that Louisiana is the first state to offer families and individuals a better way to stay protected from online predators. Safe Virtual Neighborhood is the only online sex offender safety app partnered with law enforcement, so it’s using data and information the public can trust.”
How OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood Works
Parents who sign up for Safe Virtual Neighborhood download the app on their child’s smartphone device.
The app monitor’s the child’s smartphone Snapchat activity, texts, emails, location and phone calls in the background, without storing the child’s messages or interfering with its use.
If a registered sex offender contacts the child, or if the child the child lingers near the address of a sex offender, the parent or guardian receives an instant notification.
From there, parents should ask their children about their smartphone activity or contact law enforcement to investigate.
Louisiana parents and guardians can download the app or learn more at OffenderWatch.com. OffenderWatch plans to partner with law enforcement to offer Safe Virtual Neighborhood in other states by the end of the year.
There are nearly 900,000 registered sex offenders in the United States. Many states have different systems for tracking these offenders, making it difficult for agencies to update records when the offenders cross state lines. OffenderWatch works with law enforcement agencies providing registry software and interfaces from them to the public. Founded in 2000 in Covington, La. under the Watch Systems company, OffenderWatch provides a variety services to sheriffs’ offices, police departments, Attorney Generals’ offices, U.S. Marshal judicial districts, U.S. attorneys, federal and state probation and parole agents, department of corrections, Indian tribes, and more. Recently, OffenderWatch partnered with the RCMP in Canada to enhance the Canadian National Sex Offender Registry.
In 2019, OffenderWatch launched a new product, Safe Virtual Neighborhood. The mobile app allows law enforcement to alert parents if a registered sex offender contact their child through several online outlets—or if the child is near an offender’s home. Learn more at OffenderWatch.com.