Ohio state officials launch new sex offender 'reverse lookup' technology


CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - New changes unveiled to Ohio's sex offender registry are making it easier for parents to find out.  The office of Attorney General Mike DeWine along with the Buckeye State Sheriff's Association rolled out the new "reverse lookup" feature on Thursday.

Technology is everywhere.  It's in your hands and at your fingertips all the time.  It's a useful tool, but it can quickly become a very dangerous one at that.

"20 years ago when I started in law enforcement, the technology was not there like it is today.  Certainly there are many more predators out there lurking on the Internet," said Lt. Joe Macaluso of the Delhi Township Police Department.

That's why state officials are rolling out this database.  It's all to help families fight back against those predators by using the Electronic Sex Offender Registration and Notification database.

"It gives parents one additional tool that, in some circumstances, could be helpful," Attorney General Mike DeWine told FOX19.

With a few clicks, and some information like an email address, cell phone number or social media handle, you can look up information not publicly available.

"It makes me feel a lot more comfortable.  A lot.  Because now-a-days you have no idea who anyone is," said Britni Harper of Norwood.

Harper has several children as young as two-years old.  The idea of some extra protection is welcomed in her home.

"There's never enough safety.  The more safety the better, in my eyes.  I would hate for something to happen to my kid," said Harper.

Sex offenders in Ohio must register their addresses and vehicle information.  They also must list phone numbers, email addresses, screen names and other handles, but it doesn't mean those are true.

If there's no hit on the information you enter, that doesn't mean that person is totally harmless.

"Not all people put their real name, their real information out there.  You may look at somebody and they may say that there's nothing out there on them, but be vigilant.  Continue to look at your children's accounts.  Know who they're talking to," said Macaluso.

The reverse look-up won't publicly identify an offender who registered that info.  But, it will tell you to contact your local sheriff's office or the attorney general's office.  The sheriff's office will then decide what course of action to take next.

With Thursday's announcement, Ohio becomes just the eighth state to offer the reverse look-up technology.

To access that database, visit their website.