Mercer one of first counties
to test e-mail system for notification
By SEAN RICE
Mercer County residents now can sign up for a new state-sponsored
program that automatically sends an e-mail when a convicted
sex offender moves into the neighborhood.
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro announced the new four-county
pilot program Tuesday afternoon at a press conference at Romer’s
Entertainment Facility, Celina.
The Sex Offender and Notification law requires county sheriffs
to notify people living within 1,000 feet of a registered sexual
predator — those convicted of the most serious sexual
crimes. The least serious offenders, like in voyeurism cases,
are classified as sexual orientated offenders.
The new computer software allows residents to be notified when
any sexual related offender moves within a mile of their residence.
The e-mail program is an addition to the paper notification
that sheriffs must distribute to those living in the 1,000-feet
radius of a sexual predator.
“We are going to see how this works in Mercer County ...
get the bugs out ... and later expand it to all Ohio’s
88 counties,” Petro said.
County sheriffs in Mercer, Lucas, Washington and Stark counties
are currently administering the program. Petro said there was
no political influence in picking which counties participate
in the pilot; two counties are rural, the other two are urban.
The attorney general said this initiative is part of the reshaping
of his office to start providing more services to local governments,
in areas like crime scene investigation.
Petro explained the importance of sexual predator notification,
using the story of a Wayne County girl who was abducted from
the county fair by a known neighbor who turned out to be a convicted
“Now, had that family known ...” he suggested.
The new program can be accessed through the county’s Web
site, www. mercercountyohio.org. A click on the sheriff link,
then the sex offender link will open the offender page. Visitors
can look at photos of the county’s two dozen-plus offenders
and sign up for the e-mail program.
The new program also offers a search by name or address. A statewide
searchable list is available through the attorney general’s
“This is an important public safety component, it’s
not about harassing people who were convicted,” Petro