TALLAHASSEE– LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Attorney General Charlie Crist today announced that Floridians can now utilize a new tool to help ensure the safety of their children and neighborhoods. Beginning today, Floridians and citizens across America can link to the Family Watchdog website through the Attorney General’s site at http://MyFloridaLegal.com. Family Watchdog features a unique service that provides email notification when registered sexual predators move into a neighborhood. Florida becomes the first state to join forces with this child safety operation.
The new site is part of the Amber Alert network and can be accessed directly at http://Familywatchdog.us. It provides free general information, detailed maps of neighborhoods, tips on keeping children safe, and an email notification when a registered sex offender moves into a particular neighborhood. Additional addresses can be added to the notification system for a small fee. Family Watchdog is endorsed by America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh and child safety advocate Julie Clark, who together formed The Safe Side, a group designed to further child protection efforts.
“Nothing is more important than the protection of our children,” said Crist. “We are pleased to alert our citizens to this new tool that can help parents keep track of those who are prone to destroy lives. Sexual predators are likely to commit similar crimes again, so parents need to know when these individuals move into the neighborhood.”
Family Watchdog can also serve as a bridge among the states in helping citizens know the locations of these offenders. While states such as Florida have a database of registered sexual predators and offenders, it is difficult to know when they move to another state. Sexual offenders and predators can be tracked by name, no matter the state in which they are registered, and the Family Watchdog site enables parents to draw maps of their registered addresses.
“Like parents everywhere, we’re sick and tired of seeing case after case of crimes against children,” said Walsh and Clark. “You can join us in fighting back.”
“Family Watchdog is honored to provide our Internet-based sex offender mapping service to the State of Florida, and we welcome the opportunity to partner with Attorney General Crist and his staff to reduce the number of sexual assaults committed on Floridians,” said Steve Roddel, founder of Family Watchdog. “We believe strongly that the best way to combat sexual assault is through personal awareness. Identifying known perpetrators of these crimes within the community is an important first step in protecting those most at risk of sexual assault.”
In the six months since Roddel launched Family Watchdog in Westfield, Indiana, the website has grown into America’s number one site for the identification and mapping of convicted sexual offenders. The website – – consistently has more users than the next three sites combined. Over the last several weeks the website has undergone major changes to make it easier to navigate and offer the user more information, including a national ‘Amber Alert ‘ System, child safety tips, and holiday shopping safety.
This partnership is another component of the Attorney General’s commitment to enhancing child safety. During 2005 several initiatives have been launched, including a partnership with NetSmartz, an interactive resource for children and parents. Other initiatives include:
• In May, Crist and Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Commissioner Guy Tunnell, in conjunction with Pitney-Bowes, announced an enhanced state website that makes it easier to keep track of sexual offenders and predators in Florida.
• The establishment of the Attorney General’s CyberCrime
Unit in 2005. This unit targets child pornography, child predators and internet-based sexual exploitation of children, and produced the arrest of an accused child pornographer soon after it was established.
• A new publication titled “Safe Steps” was produced for
the purpose of educating parents on ways to protect their young children and alert them to issues involving teenagers. The publication was produced in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
• A series of one-hour courses called “Escape School,”
covering child safety for both children and parents, was presented at 25 locations around the state.
Links to these child safety initiatives can be found on the Attorney General’s homepage at http://MyFloridaLegal.com and by clicking on “Child Safety.”
The Attorney General also successfully fought for the constitutionality of the Florida Sexual Predators Act – Florida’s version of “Megan’s Law” – which is the act that requires sexual predators to register once they are released from prison. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with the arguments put forth by the Attorney General’s Office of the Solicitor General. The Supreme Court also agreed with the Attorney General’s argument that automatically placing a convicted offender’s name on a list of offenders is not unconstitutional. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court last month refused to consider a legal challenge to the Florida law requiring sex offenders to register with the state so their pictures and other identifying information can be posted on the internet.