Although most people would not like to meet sex offenders, Mesa residents are now able to find out where they live.
All residents have to do is sign up to receive e-mail notifications in the event such offenders move into a neighborhood near a school, park or daycare center where children congregate.
The Mesa Police Department is making available on its website a user-friendly link that features a sex offender registry called OffenderWatch.
OffenderWatch, which is in addition to the sex offender registry maintained by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, allows Mesa residents to receive notifications for a specific address or multiple ones.
"Any time you can let people know where sex offenders live, it makes the city safer," said Detective Mike Melendez, a Mesa police spokesman.
OffenderWatch is accessible by visiting http://www.mesaaz.gov/police, and is available 24 hours a day. Residents can register on the site to receive e-mails for certain addresses. When an offender is required to register with MCSO, that information is immediately and electronically made available to the law enforcement agency serving the jurisdiction where the offender moves to. Then, a Mesa police officer contacts and interviews the offender, verifies the address, collect additional information and prepares the notification for residents. The information moves with the offender whenever he or she relocates to another jurisdiction.
As of this week, Mesa had 644 registered sex offenders living in the city, according to Melendez. Whether a sex offender is required to register when moving into a new city or relocating to another state depends on the level of offense or risk factor of repeating the crimes.
Mesa is the first East Valley city to use OffenderWatch, Melendez said. Other cities using it include Yuma and Buckeye, and Peoria is in the process of getting it online.