Ordinary Minnesotans who want to keep tabs on sex offenders can breathe a sigh of relief since the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has launched a new website that allows the public to identify and track sex offenders who have not registered as required, reports the Star Tribune.
The Minnesota Predatory Offender Registry has listed 264 sexual predators who are more than 30 days late in complying with a state law that requires them to register with local law enforcement. Hundreds more could be added soon if they do not register.
These types of websites are sprouting up in many states as citizens demand an opportunity to see names, faces, location and histories of sex offenders. This site lumps the most dangerous (Level 3) offenders with the less dangerous offenders in communities around the state.
"This website is just another tool we will use to hunt down and lock up offenders who are breaking the law," said Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who was on hand for a news conference at BCA headquarters in St. Paul.
Users can search for offenders by name, city or ZIP code. The information includes the offender's name, picture, distinguishing marks, last known address and offense tendencies.
There has been some concern over vigilantism. Indeed, there have been a few reported instances around the country of sex offenders being hunted down by using information gleaned from the website.
"We haven't had any incidents at all with the Level 3s and those are the worst ones," said Michael Campion, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.