Panic and vigilante behavior now easier than ever

Photo courtesy of
‘spooky execution room shadows’
courtesy of ‘Jeremy Burgin’

WaPo reports that the D.C. police department has pushed out an upgrade to the online tool for scrutinizing the sex offender database. Now the tool has even greater granularity, allowing people to search for every single registered offender within a 0.25 mile radius of a given address, an upgrade from the previous system which required someone searching to know what police service area they were in.

WaPo erroneously claims that the database does not list what crime they were convicted of, but clicking through to the “more details” page includes that information. That page also states “Abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate, harass, or harm registered sex offenders, their families, or their property will not be tolerated and is subject to prosecution” which no doubt explains why the offender’s picture and work address is prominently displayed in the main grid but not their offense or how long ago it was.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


5 thoughts on “Panic and vigilante behavior now easier than ever

  1. Not sure that being aware of where all the sexual predators are counts as vigilante, or panic. I think it’s just street smarts for women!

  2. Puh-lease. Their victims were not protected when these jerks threatened, intimidated, harassed and harmed – so blatantly they got CAUGHT – and we have every right to know if there’s an immediate threat to our children and ourselves in our neighborhood. Don’t like being outed for your crimes? Don’t commit them!

  3. Awareness isn’t (though I think the need-to-know the information is vastly, vastly overstated), but Don’s point is that online, searchable registries encourage people to harass and threaten the sex offender in their neighborhood every time Timmy is half an hour late coming home from school, and that the particular interface design of this database ESPECIALLY encourages that kind of thing, because it shows you RIGHT UP FRONT the person’s face and place of employment, but you have to click through to find out that their “sex offense” was that they mooned a cop 15 years ago.

  4. Me thinks the answer to that would be to post the offense(s) and year(s) with the initial upfront information. I find the zip code thingiemabober very helpful, and appreciate the upgrade of service!

  5. What “immediate threat to our children” are we aware of by having people like this on the registries? The exception, not the rule, but I think it demonstrates how flawed these things are.

    I am overall against public registries; I think that if people are a legitimate danger then they should be kept locked up. If they are not I think it’s in our interest to re-integrate them into society rather than marginalize them.

    I think it would be far better to have a registry that authorized and verified businesses and organizations could search to insure that past offenders aren’t working in sensitive situations. I absolutely concur that convicted pedophiles have no business ever working with children.

    However this registry seems to be the exact opposite of useful. You can search for a person based on where they live or work within a half mile, but how long does it take to get a mile away even via mass transit? I would hope that Katie and other woman are taking precautions at against assault by anyone – not just the people on that list – and in all locations – not just the ones where offenders are registered.

    The registry doesn’t allow you to search by name, so if some dude asks you out you can’t check to see if he’s a rapist. You can’t search to see if someone who you hire to watch your kids has been convicted of child endangerment unless you know their address.

    By emphasizing proximity and showing faces without context this seems to me like a system with way more negative uses than positive ones.