The Florida Department of Law Enforcement allows you to search the area surrounding your home for registered sexual predators and sexual offenders.
Visit the FDLE’s website to get started. To pull up a map of all registered offenders and predators within a specific neighborhood, click on “Neighborhood Search.” From there, type in your home address or the address of a point of interest and add the city name or ZIP code.
The tool allows you to start your search in an area as small as a quarter mile radius of the listed address up to a 5-mile radius. Results can be displayed in list or map form. The list shows a mugshot of the offender, the name, address and current status (in jail, on probation, etc…)
For instance, there are 369 predators and offenders listed with a 5-mile radius of the Clearwater Police Department, 645 Pierce St., Clearwater.
(Note: some of these areas overlap and include the same predators and offenders on more than one list.)
Law enforcement officials and researchers caution that these registries play only a limited role in preventing child sexual abuse because most perpetrators are known to the child.
The U.S. Department of Justice, which oversees the National Sex Offender Public Website, estimates that only about 10 percent of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child. An estimated 60 percent of perpetrators are known to the child but are not family members. They are family friends, babysitters, child care providers and others. Thirty percent of child victims are abused by family members. Nearly a quarter of the abusers are under the age of 18, the department estimates.
Public registries remain controversial. Some addresses are outdated and there is a concern that such databases create a false sense of security and lead to unfair harassment of the sexual predators and offenders listed on them.
Sexual offenders are classified by Florida as people who have been convicted of sexual misconduct. That misconduct may include offenses ranging from computer pornography and video voyeurism to sexual battery. Sexual predators are people who have been convicted of a sexually violent offense and who have also been designated by a court to be sexual predators.
Prior to Halloween, area police officers, sheriff’s deputies and probation officers routinely call on registered sex predators and offenders in their jurisdictions to remind them of the laws concerning contact with children.
They are not permitted to:
- Give out candy or other treats.
- Turn on their porch lights.
- Put Halloween decorations on the outsides of their homes.
- Answer the door to trick-or-treaters.
- Dress in costumes or wear masks.
- Attend Halloween parties where children will be present.
Any offender who does not follow these rules is subject to immediate arrest.
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