ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) — The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office has introduced a free family safety mobile app to help protect families and children from sexual predators.

The app is being offered through the Sheriff’s Office’s partnership with the OffenderWatch App that will inform parents of registered sex offenders. According to the OCSO, OffenderWatch is the nation’s leading sex offender registry partner.

The OCSO stated that over 80 percent of Americans live within one mile of a registered sex offender, and online harassment and abuse continue to increase. To combat the issue the OffenderWatch App is available for free download on both Android and iPhone smartphone devices.

After downloading the app, citizens will be able to see registered sex offenders located near them or their family members. They will also receive free alerts when a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood. The app also offers online safety information and tips for how to talk to children about sex offenders.

Families will also have the option to choose to upgrade the app to a paid version, which includes more features. In the “Protect Plus” version of the OffenderWatch App, the app will monitor a child’s texts, emails, location, and phone calls. The app then sends an immediate alert to parents if a registered sex offender contacts the child, or if the child lingers near the address of a sex offender.

According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, one in five teens has received an unwanted sexual solicitation online. In 2021, most of the more than 29 million tips reported to the National Center for Mi In 2021, most of the more than 29 million tips reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children dealt with child sexual abuse images, online enticement, including “sextortion,” child sex trafficking, and child sexual molestation.

According to the OCSO, online safety has been a challenge for both law enforcement and technology companies for years. Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said the app will help them protect the community from dangers online.

“The Offender Watch App is a great tool for our community,” Maciol said. “The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office places public safety at the forefront, the Offender Watch App is another tool that the public can use to increase family safety.”

More information about the app can be found on the OffenderWatch website.