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Online Sex Offender Map Swamped by Hits

June 01, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — In its first 24 hours, the city's new Web site showing the neighborhoods where sex offenders live received nearly 1 million hits, causing the system to freeze and forcing installation of a second server, officials said Friday.

Although the site does not show specific addresses, it allows parents and others to see on a map how many sex offenders live in their communities and the approximate location of their homes.

"We knew there would be tremendous interest, but this exceeded even our expectations," said Councilman Jim Madaffer.

The map distinguishes between high-risk offenders--those with multiple offenses and at least one involving violence--and serious offenders. The former are displayed with red dots, the latter with orange.

Many residents were shocked at how many offenders live in their neighborhoods.

"It's very scary," said Mary Davison, mother of three children under age 9, who counted two dozen offenders within a few blocks of her home.

The Web site only includes information for offenders living within the city limits. The county Board of Supervisors is preparing a similar Web site for locations outside the city. That site is expected to be running by July.

The city Web site is modeled after one used in Fremont in Northern California.

Under the state's Megan's Law--named for a 7-year-old girl raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who lived across the street--neighborhoods must be notified when an offender moves in.

Law enforcement agencies have compact discs that can be reviewed by members of the public, providing specific information about and pictures of registered sex offenders. But there has been criticism that the information is not readily available.

The city's Web address is www.SanDiego.gov.

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