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Kansas Sheriff's App Aims to Help Keep Children Safe

The Virtual Safe Neighborhood program will enable Shawnee County, Kan., citizens to buy a smartphone app that allows parents to be alerted if a registered offender attempts to contact their child.

by Tim Hrenchir, The Topeka Capital-Journal / February 25, 2020

(TNS) — Keeping children safe is the purpose of a cellphone application that the Shawnee County, Kan., Sheriff's Office is arranging to have made available here.

Shawnee County Commissioners Bill Riphahn, Kevin Cook and Aaron Mays voted 3-0 Monday to acknowledge Sheriff Brian Hill had notified them that his office was paying $500 to Covington, La.-based OffenderWatch to provide "Virtual Safe Neighborhood" services in Shawnee County.

The Virtual Safe Neighborhood program will enable Shawnee County citizens to buy a smartphone application that will allow parents to know if a registered offender attempts to contact their child, Hill told commissioners last week in a memorandum.

The memo said his office was paying the $500 cost using money from its Offender Registration account.

Laws in Kansas and numerous other states require registration by offenders convicted of specific crimes.

OffenderWatch maintains a database of offender registries and is "the nation's leading sex offender registry management and community notification technology solution," according to its website.

Citizens must pay a fee to use the Virtual Safe Neighborhood program, "but when it comes to safety and security of our children, I think it's well worth it," sheriff's Lt. Shane Hoobler told commissioners Monday.

The service may be acquired at a cost of $9.99 a year, which covers as many as five children, according to the OffenderWatch website.

Parents must create an account, then download the app on their cellphone and their child's cellphone, that site said.

"Depending on the type of phone, OffenderWatch monitors phone calls, texts, snapchats, emails and the location of your child's phone in relation to an offender's registered address," the site said. "It works silently in the background and won't interfere with the phone's use."

©2020 The Topeka Capital-Journal, Kan. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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