Protecting children from sexual predators: Part Two

Reported by Casey Roman - email
Photography by Ryan Koresko
Photography by Fletcher Mangum
Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Sexual predators live in our neighborhoods.  They're not on the loose, but they are on the radar.

Parole detectives map out predators every move, right from their desks.

"It monitors them 24 hours, 7 days a week so we know their whereabouts," said Parole Detective Jeffery Scott Pace.

North Carolina has lifetime satellite monitoring to keep track of repeat sex offenders.

WECT's Casey Roman teamed up with the Department of Community Corrections to test the technology.

Casey put the ankle bracelet on and headed out onto the streets of Wilmington.

Predators are forbidden at any place used for minors like New Hanover High School.  If they breach the boundary, a warning should be sent to the device and to officers.

Casey went to the school, up the sidewalk and to the door, but no alarm went off.

Officials explain a "no go" zone has to be preset with the system's manufacturer.

"We have to give the vendor them. Its kind of hard to talk about every day care and every school," said Hannah Rowland with the Department of Community Correction.

New Hanover High School hasn't made the list yet.

A few phone calls and a half hour later, the zone was set and the computer caught our reporter on the campus of the school.

Then, Casey tried to escape from the brace, but the device shoed her previous violation had backed up the system.

After she called to clear her record, the device recognized the new violation.

According to detectives, a strap removal typically doesn't give a warning, just a visit from police.

"It's only going to notify us because we don't want them to know that we know," said Rowland.

While the device pin-pointed Casey's locations, its coordination was a challenge.

"There's limitations to any technology and what you were seeing that day was we were forcing the unit to do a lot more than it typically does," said Rowland.

Satellite monitors work best as a new supervision tool for probation officers.

Identifying both red flags and good behavior is easier, but this investigation is a reminder that technology is a deterrence not prevention.

"I don't want to give a false sense of security, no. Can somebody still go out to commit a crime with this equipment - yes," said Rowland.

The most alert and watchful eyes remain our own.