Law enforcement keeping an eye on social media accounts of sex offenders

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DALLAS COUNTY, Mo. — A sex offender in Buffalo is behind bars after not registering his social media accounts with law enforcement.

A Dallas County Sergeant tells us about how they keep tabs online.

Sergeant Tracy Lawson, Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, said, “The very front page is gonna be where all the internet and email information is gonna be provided.”

“If we think there’s anything going on, obviously we’re going to dig deeper. Normally, it’s just cursory looks if you just happen to peruse them if they said they have a Facebook account.”

Dallas County Sergeant Tracy Lawson uses his Facebook account for research.

“I don’t have any special programs or anything to delve deeper than your normal account would. I don’t friend them, so I won’t get a response or anything like that.”

He doesn’t get notifications when an offender posts online, but the Missouri State Highway Patrol does.

“Via an internet search engine. They have algorithms that if certain words or certain indicators come up, they actually flag for anybody that puts one out. But if it’s put out then it flags that they’re actually a registered offender, then they’re immediately reporting it to, normally, the state. Because the state actually is the controller of the offender registry.”

“Your instant messenger ID, if you’re on Facebook or if you’re on, let’s say a blog.”

“So many sex crimes these days are committed through social media or internet content of some sorts. Whether it be search engines or instant messaging. There’s so many social media sites for dating-type apps.”

“Their name, date of birth obviously, social security number. Next page is gonna be their address. Secondary address.”

“Part of the safety, the safety net in this is that people know, people know who’s living next door. Their privacy is obviously limited, but that’s part of the sentence in their crime.”

Sergeant Lawson says he hasn’t seen anything alarming from his research recently.

He notes that it’s a crime if an offender leaves any social media site out of their registration form.

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