The smartphone-based tool includes functionalities like the locations of registered sex offenders and options to avoid and report suspicious activity.
(TNS) — Parents preparing children for Halloween have some new tools to protect them, as well as familiar warnings from police and state officials about what to avoid and whose home to steer clear of.
Along with warnings about traffic, candy and trick-or-treating around dark homes, a new Florida Department of Law Enforcement app as well as signs the Nassau County Sheriff's Office posted recently could help when it comes to avoiding registered sexual offenders or predators.
FDLE launched the new mobile app Monday, making it easy for people to see where sexual felons have registered a home address in Florida via a "Search Sexual Offenders and Predators" button.
"I can't think of a better time to launch this app," FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said. "I hope all parents will download this before going trick-or-treating and then use it often to help keep their families safe or to report suspicious activity."
The app also allows people to search for active Amber, Missing Child and Silver alerts. It can seek out wanted suspects or stolen vehicle information, or submit a tip about suspicious activity, according to the department. It is available for a free download in the Google Play and the Apple App stores or download it at: fdle.state.fl.us/MA/Mobile-Devices.aspx.
Parents without a smartphone can also check the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's registered sexual offender and predator site at: offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/sops/offenderSearch.jsf on their home computer.
Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper and detective Mark Murdock took that one step further over the weekend, placing signs in front of the 14 convicted sexual offenders and predators who live in Fernandina Beach, Yulee, Callahan, Hilliard and Bryceville. Each sign bears the name of the felon at the home to warn parents and children not to visit. That's because Florida law prohibits sex offenders and predators on supervised probation from handing out candy or other items to children on Halloween.
"Violating these laws could result in severe consequences, even if the offender was unaware of committing a violation," Leeper said.
The Flagler County Sheriff's Office, as did many others, issued do's and don'ts for trick-or-treaters that include making sure costumes fit properly and masks don't obstruct vision, as well as carrying a flashlight or glow stick so drivers can see them. Parents should supervise children, who should not trick-or-treat alone. Only visit well-lit homes, and don't go inside. All candy should be inspected by an adult before eating. Some parents could consider attending a trunk-or-treat or community event instead of letting children out in a neighborhood to ring doorbells, the Sheriff's Office said.
©2018 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.