Sex Offender Map Credited for Website Popularity
(Pierre) – The latest community policing device is proving popular among South Dakotans. Last week Attorney General Mark Barnett made a registered sex offender dot density map available to the public. The map was put on the Attorney General’s website and is being credited for the dramatic increase in attorney general website traffic.
The attorney general’s site generally receives about 2,500 hits a week. The week the dot density map was introduced the site had a 276% increase with nearly 9,400 hits. The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation website also received a new wave of interest. It usually gets about 1,000 visitors a week, but last week the visits jumped to nearly 6,900.
“The communities are clearly very supportive of this effort, but more importantly they’re taking proactive steps to keep their families safe,” said Attorney General Mark Barnett. “The whole idea behind this map was to increase awareness, and it is already doing its job.”
The dot density map provides information about how many registered sex offenders live in particular neighborhoods of any given city or county in South Dakota. But because of state law, the state site is not allowed to give specific addresses or names of the sex offenders. However, names, locations, and photographs of convicted sex offenders are available at local law enforcement offices.
Sioux Falls and Rapid City authorities are currently preparing to post websites with photos and other identifying information of convicted sex offenders. The Aberdeen Police Department already has a site in operation. It can be accessed by visiting www.aberdeen.sd.us or through a link on the dot density map of the attorney general’s website at www.state.sd.us/atg.
“We’ve heard a lot of discussion lately about access to public information. Usually we hear about the government trying to hide information, here we’re pushing for the sake of public safety,” said Barnett.
Barnett said that his office has developed software so that any local law enforcement agency can easily operate its own website complete with photographs and locations of convicted sex offenders.