U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Getting the Word Out

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 26 Issue: 6 Dated: June 1999 Pages: 76-80
Ronnie L. Paynter
Date Published
4 pages
New technology is providing some solutions to the challenges faced by police departments in complying with Megan's laws related to sex offender registration.
The Community Notification Act of 1997, resulting from the rape and murder of 7-year-old Megan Kanka, requires each State to maintain a sex offender registry. In implementing provisions of this act, police departments face difficulties related to publicity, funds, and database creation, but technology may provide some solutions. For example, the Virginia State Police Department maintains a web site that gives addresses, pictures, and offense information on every violent sex offender living in the State. The web site is a response to Virginia legislation requiring law enforcement to develop a State sex offender registry and to notify the community of a violent sex offender's presence. Virginia notifies residents about violent sex offenders in several different ways, such as encouraging organizations that provide services for children to register on the web site so they can automatically receive notifications and making information available to the public via the Internet. The Minneapolis Police Department uses a system known as CityWatch to notify the public about community meetings convened to offer information on sex offenders in the community. CityWatch automatically records how many attempts are made to reach residences and how successful the attempts are. An automated victim notification service developed has been jointly developed by two companies that provides sex offender information and automatically notifies users via telephone from a call center when a sex offender's custody status changes. Efforts to keep communities informed makes them feel safer and more secure and enables residents to protect themselves. 1 photograph