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Supervisors to Vote on Online Sex Offender Map

July 30, 2002|GARRETT THEROLF | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles County residents may soon be able to log onto home computers and view an online map showing where convicted sex offenders live, officials said Monday.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who proposed the map, said such information would be useful to parents during "a critical time when we have predators taking advantage of innocent children."

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the proposal today, and a majority of Antonovich's colleagues said through aides that they support the idea.

The proposal calls for a map showing the general locations of the nearly 18,000 convicted sex offenders living in the county.

Symbols would mark 225 "high risk" offenders who have been convicted of sexual assault or assault with intent to rape.

Symbols on the Map

Other symbols would show the locations of parks and schools.

Antonovich said he expected the map to be on the county's Web site within a month and to cost about $48,000 to establish and maintain.

Under Megan's Law, named for a 7-year-old New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a paroled sex offender, information about sex offenders is available via computer at sheriff's stations and on postings at some pools and parks.

Under an order proposed by Supervisor Gloria Molina in 1998, Los Angeles County residents are informed by mail or door-to-door visits when a "high-risk" offender relocates or is identified on their block.

"This site would really add to what the county is already doing," said Miguel Santana, a spokesman for Molina.

State law prohibits placing the names and addresses of sex offenders on the Internet.

But it allows the public to get the names at local police and sheriff's stations.

Antonovich said he hopes parents will use the Web site to learn of sex offenders in their neigh- borhoods and then go to local sheriff and police stations to "find the exact location, photograph and rap sheet of these individuals."

Antonovich said he wasn't worried that residents would use the map to find and harass convicted sex offenders.

"I would rather err on the side of the child's safety," Antonovich said.

San Diego County established a similar site July 1.

It received 304,000 hits that first day.

Officials there attributed the interest to publicity surrounding the abduction and slaying of 7-year-old Danielle van Dam and said that, on average, 70,000 hits are still logged on the site daily.

Effort in San Diego

Last year, no more than 300 people entered San Diego sheriff stations to look up information on sex offenders in their area, said a spokesman for the San Diego County sheriff.

Molina and Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke said through representatives that they support the proposal.

Visit Los Angeles County's Web site at www.co.la.ca.us.

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