West Virginia State Police To Develop Sex Offender Mapping Progr - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

West Virginia State Police To Develop Sex Offender Mapping Program

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There are hundreds of crimes against children in West Virginia every year and only 18 troopers to deal with the cases.

"It's nowhere near enough. Our troopers are overwhelmed. The ones that are assigned to this unit. Obviously, the troopers in detachment still investigate some of these cases. What is unique about our unit is that they are highly trained in the process of investigating these crimes," said Lieutenant D.B. Swiger, Crimes Against Children Unit.

It's an issue that has been presented to the state legislature and will now appear before the Senate.

"Over 23 hundred children in West Virginia who were victims last year aren't old enough to go to school in our state," said Barbara Fleischauer, (D) Monongalia.

State Troopers said the number of sex offenders in West Virginia continues to grow every single year.

Mobile applications like 'Sex Offender Search' show a disturbing amount of sex offenders that live just miles away. State Police use a similar tool to this one and just received a pretty hefty grant to make the necessary improvements.

"What we have found in looking at our sex offender registry, we really had no type of a mapping system in place," Lt. Swiger said. "There are some public sites that have sex offender mapping. But the information that is available there is nowhere near the amount that we can locate and use in the mapping system we want to develop."

The West Virginia State Police has received $30,000 grant from the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey who oversees the WV Broadband Mapping Program.

It will go toward a new system which will allow troopers to identify all sex offenders within a given region by making inquiries to the mapping system.

"The way it stands right now, we would have to go to the detachment, go through the sex offender files which are in alphabetical order. It's very time consuming. This is going to cut down on the time frame with the mapping system," Lt. Swiger said.

Troopers said it will also save vital time in instances of child abductions, as one of the first investigative leads conducted is to locate convicted sex offenders within a given area of the abduction.

"Statistically its been shown that sex offenders have been involved in abductions of children. That's one of the first avenues that we take in the investigation. With this mapping system we would be able to make an inquiry to the system to locate sex offenders within a five mile radius," Lt. Swiger said.

The program will provide Troopers with vastly more information than is available on similar public mapping systems.

State Police have partnered with West Virginia University through the WV3C (West Virginia Cyber Crime Cooperative) to develop the program.

They hope to have the new product up and running by July.