SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Have you ever checked the Chatham County Sex Offender Registry in Chatham County to see how close you and your family live to a predator?
As school gets back in gear, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office says it might be a good time for parents to look at the updated map. Deputies say you don’t necessarily have to that often if you sign up for regular updates.
Kelly Pack, a parent in Chatham County, looks at the sex offender registry as a tool to be extra cautious of who lives near her and her family.
“It’s always kind of in the back of your mind, and that’s a little bit of a real reminder. Sometimes it’s a little closer to home than you think," she said.
Sgt. Brian Underwood with the Chatham County Sex Offender Registration and Tracking Unit said their small team tracks and monitors nearly 800 sex offenders day in and day out.
“We physically go out and knock on their doors four times a year on every offender’s house to make sure that the information they provided to us is accurate," Sgt. Underwood said.
Of those nearly 800, there are 41 offenders in Chatham County deemed level three status by the state of Georgia. This group is classified as dangerous sexual predators, and you can see any of these sex offenders with a click of a button. Deputies in the SORT Unit showed WTOC what you can see from this LIVE map - where they live, what they look like, risk level, and conviction.
Pack said with students back in the classroom, it’s a great time to remind other parents to check out their neighborhoods on the registry.
“We are far enough away from the school that my daughter doesn’t walk to school, but I know a lot of kids in that area have bus stops in that area too, so it’s a great reminder to just be like 'maybe we should be a little bit more cautious in those areas, too," Pack said.
The SORT team works with schools and the community to use the registry as a resource, but it can be made easier by signing up for alerts, which only takes about a minute. After you type in your email and zip code, you will get an email every time a registered offender moves into your zip code, or changes their location.
“That website updates those maps immediately. It will also send out notifications to anyone that is registered to those notifications, so you don’t have to remember to check it once a week or once a month. You can get alerts and we’ll do the hard work for you,” Sgt. Underwood said.
One part of keeping the registry up to date is that all offenders must notify the SORT Unit within 72 hours if their address changes.
Not all offenders are registered for sex crimes. For example, urinating in public could land you a public indecency charge or having a domestic dispute in front of a child could even escalate to a cruelty to children charge. And in some cases, both charges could lead to registering as a sex offender according to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.
There are 794 registered offenders in Chatham County. According to local registries, there are 63 registered offenders in Bryan County, and 109 in Effingham County.