NORTH LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Research indicates that more than 80% of Americans live within one mile of a registered sex offender and online harassment and abuse continues to increase. The North Las Vegas Police Department is pleased to announce a new partnership that will help keep families safer from sex offenders in both the physical and virtual worlds.
NLVPD, in conjunction with industry-leading sex offender registry OffenderWatch, is now offering the app OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood, free for download on both Android and iPhone smartphone devices. After downloading the app, residents will be able to see registered sex offenders located near them or their family members. They will also receive free alerts when a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood. The app also offers online safety information and tips for how to talk to children about sex offenders.
"As children spend more time unsupervised on the internet, they are more susceptible to becoming victims of sexual predators," Police Chief Pamela Ojeda said. "No parent or caretaker should ever have to bear the burden of having their child become a victim. By providing instant access to important information, this partnership is yet another way the North Las Vegas Police Department is working to keep our children, and our community, safe."
One in five teens has received an unwanted sexual solicitation online, according to the Crimes Against Children Research Center. In 2018, most of the more than 18 million tips reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children dealt with child sexual abuse images, online enticement, including “sextortion,” child sex trafficking and child sexual molestation.
Online safety has been a challenge for both law enforcement and technology companies for years. Safe Virtual Neighborhood is a tool to help bridge the gap.
Later this fall, families will have the option to choose to upgrade the app to a paid version, which includes more features. In the “Protect Plus” version of Safe Virtual Neighborhood, the app will monitor a child’s Snapchat activity, texts, emails, location and phone calls. The app then sends an immediate alert to parents if a registered sex offender contacts the child, or if the child the child lingers near the address of a sex offender.
“Our mission is to help law enforcement better protect communities from sexual predators, so we are constantly innovating to offer new solutions for both our virtual and physical worlds,” said Mike Cormaci, president and co-founder of Covington-based OffenderWatch. “As predators continue to groom and solicit children online, we’re helping law enforcement and families combat these efforts before it becomes a tragedy. If Safe Virtual Neighborhood helps to save one child from abuse, it’s worth it.”
How OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood Works
- Parents can sign up for Safe Virtual Neighborhood and download the app on their own smartphone and their child’s Android or iPhone device.
- In the free version of the app, parents can see their child’s location and the location of registered sex offenders.
- Parents will receive notifications if a sex offender moves into their neighborhood.
- For the paid version, the app will also monitors the child’s smartphone Snapchat activity, texts, emails, location and phone calls in the background, without storing the child’s messages or interfering with their use.
- If a registered sex offender contacts the child, or if the child the child lingers near the address of a sex offender, the parent or guardian receives an instant notification.
- From there, parents should ask their children about their smartphone activity or contact law enforcement to investigate.
Parents and guardians can download the app or learn more at our website http://www.cityofnorthlasvegas.com/departments/police/ or at OffenderWatch.com.