Sex offenders....There are thousands living amongst us... Keeping track of them is a daunting task, but one the Winnebago County Sheriffs Department says it's facing head on. Childhood is supposed to be a time of innocence.
But that innocence is lost when a sexual predator strikes. They find one. They find out what they do, where they live. They work it up just like we work up a case. That's how they do their business says Deputy Doug Dobbs
And they strike when families are most vulnerable.
Deputy Doug Dobbs says, “You drop your child off at the bus stop or your child gets dropped off after school and you think they're going to be safe. That's when they happen the most.”
Deputy Doug Dobbs patrols the roads and streets, always on the look out for what’s out there. “I have children. I don't want that crime to happen my children. I don't want it to happen to someone else’s children either.”
While patrols are the first line of defense, it's the new technology that takes the guess work out of where these sex offenders live and work. Deputy Doug Dobbs says by having the program we're taking the right steps in catching them before they do it again.
This computer software gives deputies detailed maps of neighborhoods. Along with pictures, criminal backgrounds, even license plate numbers of the cars they drive.
Dep. Dobbs says that by having the tools it helps make the community better and safer.
Now, while the people on the list have served their time. Dobbs says it doesn't mean they've all changed their habits. "You'd hope there's rehabilitation. But I don't think there is."
With many of the victims being kids. Deputy Dobbs says he's thankful to have this tool.
"It's very motivating to come into work knowing you’re going to help somebody.”
The program has been successful. The Harlem School District asked the Sheriffs Department to over lay their bus routes onto the program to make sure their kids are safe when the heading to and from school.