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Online registry may help police with investigations

April 29, 2002|BY ANDREA ROWLAND

andreabh@herald-mail.com

The state's sex offender registry can help police investigate - and perhaps prevent - new sex crimes, law enforcement officers in Washington County said.

Police can use the registry - which lists convicted sex offenders' names, current addresses and details of their crimes - as a starting point when investigating new sex crimes without known suspects in certain areas, Washington County Sheriff Charles F. Mades said.

Child sex offenders in Washington County must register with the Sheriff's Department and re-register every year for at least 10 years within seven days after changing addresses.

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The Sheriff's Department forwards the registry information to the Crimes Against Children and Sexual Offender Registry Unit in Pikesville, Md., Mades said.

All other sex offenders must register with the Maryland State Police.

The Sheriff's Department notifies the public schools superintendent when child sex offenders register or re-register after moving to another location within the county, Mades said. Knowing the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders can help school officials better protect children, he said.

Registry information might also help police prevent new sex crimes, Hagerstown City Police Chief Arthur Smith said.

The information will be divvied up among city police sector commanders, Smith said, and officers will work with deputies from the Sheriff's Department to make sure registered sex offenders are living where they say they are.

Keeping close tabs on the offenders might help those who are "wavering" stay out of trouble, Smith said.

Neighborhood crime watch groups might also help spread the word about convicted sex offenders living in their communities by posting the registry on their crime watch Web sites, Smith said.

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