Northwest NEWS

July 20, 1998

Local News

County goes on-line with sex offender info

   by Woodinville Weekly staff
  
   SEATTLE--Registered sex offenders in King County are the latest to get their names and general whereabouts listed on the Internet.
  
   Last week, the King County Sheriff's Office unveiled a database on the more than 3,600 sex offenders countywide.
  
   Accessible at www.metrokc.gov/sheriff , information can be searched by name or zip code.
  
   Sheriff's spokesman John Urquhart said officials have two goals. "Number one, make the information available to the public ... and number two, an informed community is a safer community," Urquhart said.
  
   A last-name search provides the offender's date of birth and a physical description. A zip code search provides the name, sex, race, height, weight, hair and eye colors, and birth date.
  
   A search of the 98072 zip code, the Woodinville area, found 40 registered offenders living here.
  
   Prior to this, residents who wanted to find out about known offenders had to go down to the King County Courthouse to access files there, Urquhart said.
  
   Police divide offenders into three levels, I, II and III, with I a low risk to reoffend and III highly likely to reoffend.
  
   Until now, police have only alerted the community to Level II and III offenders moving into their area.
  
   As invasive as it sounds, the state of Florida actually goes further. Urquhart said offenders' photos and addresses are put on-line there.
  
   However, those who access the files must be careful.
  
   "Citizen abuse of this information to threaten, intimidate or harass registered sex offenders will not be tolerated," a notice on the website warns.
  
   "We don't want the public assaulting them," Urquhart explained. "They've served their time, and aren't wanted for anything."
  
   As for how residents may use the data, he said outsiders looking to move to King County could perform a search, as well as someone looking to hire a babysitter or even check out a potential significant other.
  
   Police are allowed to disseminate information on sex offenders based on the 1990 Community Protection Act.