Sex Offender Facial Recognition System

MASON CITY, Iowa – More sex offenders could soon be off of the streets thanks to a new project that will help identify them.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety is currently seeking funds that will be used to create a state-wide facial recognition system to identify sexual offenders.

Once the software is in place, it will connect with other databases and cross-reference sex offenders through photos using a biometric system.

“It’ll be a great advantage for law-enforcement because potentially we’re going to get some alerts on sex offenders in places and then I suppose it will be a better public safety basically and holding the sex offenders accountable,’ says Sheriff Kevin Pals, Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Department.

Mary Ingham, the Executive Director of Crisis Intervention in Mason City, says the program sounds good in theory but has its limitations.

“I think any other resources that law enforcement can use to better track registered sex offender’s is obviously great, but there’s also the downside of that where I become concerned is that then sometimes community members might not realize that the only people on the sex offender registries are the people that have been convicted of sex offenses,” says Ingham.

Sheriff Kevin Pals says their goal is to capture as many sex offenders as possible.

“To stop some of that sneakiness and actions from these people even though there they know that they’re not supposed to have a Facebook page or social media outlets, we can catch them doing something wrong,” says Pals.

As for Mary, she says she hopes the victims of sex crimes will also be taken into consideration.

“Where is the state really balanced where is the best use of our money? Is it for technology for facial recognition for a handful of sex offenders or is it to make sure that children that are sexually abused are getting the therapy that they need close to home?”

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