BSO using modern technology, app to help protect children

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Stacey Tinsley/Bossier Press-Tribune | Bossier Sheriff’s Office Deputy Detective Kevin Ross manages the sex offender registry for the BSO.

Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington is serious about protecting children.

The Bossier Sheriff’s Office is now participating in a mobile app to help parents keep children safe from sex offenders.  

“As parents, we will do just about anything to protect our children,” said Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington. “This app is another tool that parents can use to keep their children safe, whether it’s at home, school, or online. Roaming the neighborhood seems to have been replaced with cruising the net, and parents need to know just what’s going on in their children’s online world.”

The app is part of the sheriff’s office partnership with OffenderWatch, a national sex offender registry database, called Safe Virtual Neighborhood.

The Safe Virtual Neighborhood app utilizes existing information collected in law enforcement offender databases and applies it to people’s personal mobile devices. To use it, parents can purchase the app for $9.99 from either the Android or Apple app stores.

The adult will input their relevant information, including name, address, phone number and email. Once registered, the parent will download the same app onto their child’s phone or tablet, where it will operate in the background and monitor who is contacting the child through emails, phone calls, text messages and Snapchat messages.

The app will alert parents if the child is contacted by a phone number or email address belonging to someone on the sex offender registry. 

Once a parent is alerted, it’s up to them to notify their local police department.

The app can also track a user’s location and alert a parent if a child lingers near the address of a registered sex offender for an extended period.

Bossier Parish Sex Offender Registry Detective Kevin Ross said he thinks the Safe Virtual Neighborhood app is one of the greatest tools a parent could use to help protect their children.

“This is the greatest thing that has come up so far. This app is one of the many tools that are available for parents to keep up with what their children are doing. Kids are innocent, naive, gullible and they will believe anything. Especially if it comes through a cell phone,” Ross said.

“With technology growing at such a rapid rate, this app is really needed more than ever before,” he added.