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Varied tools help cops keep tabs on sex offenders

A Colonie investigator has been assigned to make use of the free online tool and cross-reference it with the county map, said Heider. The program allows investigators to look up addresses of registered offenders. They use a click-and-drag tool that measures in feet the distance between two areas.

If the offenders falls within that circle, they're out, said Heider.

Although new technology and manpower is being used to keep track of registered offenders, that doesn't mean the practice was non-existent before, Heider said.

In fact, Colonie has been diligent in keeping tabs on its it offenders, especially with sensitive areas like the Central Avenue corridor, where a handful of motels contract with County Social Services to house post-release offenders.

Colonie has always had a multi-faceted approach to informing the public of 30 to 40 sex offenders living in town at a given time. The police compile their own lists and update the information regularly to send out to schools and residents. The same information is available on the department's Web site as well.

But knowing where the offenders are is just one tool to keep people safe from predators, said Heider.

Heider noted that many registered offenders were charged for attacks on adults, not children. He also pointed to recent arrests in the town over the past five years that include people in positions of authority, such as teachers and coaches.

Colonie recently arrested Alexander A. Oouch, 24, a cheerleading coach at X-Factor's All Stars Cheer and Dance Gym in Colonie. Images on his cell phone led to his arrest for allegedly engaging in sex with a 14-year-old student he had privately instructed.

They aren't always people hiding in the shadows.

"It is not the do-all-to-end-all to make you safe among sex offenders. It's one tool," Heider said.

People still need to take a personal interest in their, and their families', safety, he said. Know your surroundings and educate your children and know where they are and what they are doing, he said.

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