New app alerts parents if registered sex offender contacts child

Local News

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated that the app automatically notified law enforcement if a child was near a sex offender.

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A new app that works with local law enforcement to keep kids safe will soon be available for parents in Shawnee County.

The Offender Watch Safe Virtual Neighborhood app uses cellphone data to notify parents when a child is near or contacted by a registered sex offender.

The Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office has paid $500 to allow the app to access its database of registered offenders.

To use the service, parents can create an account through Offender Watch and pay $9.99 for a year-long subscription.

Then, download the app on both your device and your child’s.

The app uses phone GPS to track the child’s location and alerts parents when a child stays near the address of a registered sex offender for an extended period of time. The app also uses social media account information that police have on file to block known predators’ accounts from contacting children with the app.

With around 1,300 registered sex offenders in the county, some local parents say the app will be worth the investment.

“Kids don’t understand what they’re doing on some of these apps and how sometimes people can take advantage of them,” Michelle Schump said. “This tool is a great tool for parents to track things as well.”

The sheriff’s office said it does not yet know when it will officially start using the app.

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