Supercomputing Power Used To Find Sex Offenders When Children Go Missing

A new tool from LexisNexis integrates maps, information from local police departments, records on 300 million U.S. residents and visitors, and details about the 600,000 sex offenders.
"We can do things like sweep an area and show all the registered and unregistered offenders there," he said. "During an abduction, through link analysis, we can determine whether if a relative of an offender is living in the area. Without this kind of tool, law enforcement would have no way of understanding this relationship."

States' registration and notification laws vary, allowing sex offenders to move to states where laws are lax, or disappear. The Adam Walsh Act requires offenders to notify authorities when they move and makes fugitives out of those who fail to do so.

Police can use AIS for routine roundups of unregistered offenders in their jurisdictions. In states that require offenders to remain a specific distance from places where children are known to congregate, police can use the application to learn the exact distances between offenders' homes and schools or daycares. That eliminates the need for police to go out and measure the distance themselves.

The application offers a special jurisdiction alert, which notifies authorities when an offender moves into their area without registering. "We can determine where their new address is," Escalante said.

Tom Joyce, a retired New York City police detective and an account manager for LexisNexis, said the system is updated more frequently than records from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and it allows local departments to access information that cannot be exchanged legally across jurisdictions.

He demonstrated how police can enter a description of a crime, including its location and known facts about a perpetrator, for analysis. He opened a second window and dropped a fictitious complaint into a map. Joyce entered the zip code and ran it through the system to bring up a list of all potential registered and unregistered sex offenders in the area. He selected all, then dragged and dropped those onto the map for a complete picture of the sex offenders in the area.

When the user hovers their mouse over a home marked with an "R" or "U" for (registered and unregistered), the information associated with that location appears in a balloon. Users can also import external data and layer it on top.

"It allows you to go out and target registered and unregistered offenders and maybe, hopefully, be able to save somebody before anything happens," Joyce said. "It provides accurate and timely intelligence and rapid deployment."

LexisNexis is one of several technology companies that donate services and products to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 2006, investigators using LexisNexis tools found 146 children, according to the NCMEC. Five states, including Florida, use LexisNexis' Advanced Sex Offender Search technology.

AIS prices vary based on the number of users and the amount of local data.

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