by Victor Lopez
LEA COUNTY, NM--OffenderWatch is the first of it's kind in New Mexico.
According to Lea County Sheriff, Rod Coffman, "It's an exciting piece of software that we can use, an exciting program for the community that provides community involvement to provide public safety to the community."
This collaborative effort sets a new standard for multi-jurisdiction cooperation. It means, officials in three New Mexico counties can work together to keep track of sex offenders.
"It's the first initiative, like this, where this many counties, or any number of counties, particularly work together to purchase this software and make it seamless," Coffman said.
Coffman adds, the databases in each county will be seamlessly linked, so citizens anywhere in the county can see maps and find out if a registered sex offender could be moving in nearby.
"They can set a preferred radius, anywhere around that location that they want to know, to be notified, if a sex offender should move in to that area," Coffman said.
Offender Watch is one of many, new things coming to Lea County. The new Sheriff's Department headquarters just broke ground Friday morning. It will be located just in front of the Lea County Detention Center.
Sheriff Coffman says things just fell in place and worked in their favor, "We've had a lot of projects that have been ongoing for a long time. OffenderWatch, we've been working on that for two months and we're ready to go live with it."
Aside from the Sheriff's, OffenderWatch is getting wide support from District Attorney Janetta Hicks.
"Absolutely, yes. She is whole heartedly with us," Coffman said.
All three Sheriff Department's web sites will provide access to the OffenderWatch web site, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Coffman says they hope to have everything up and running in early June, "(It's) just another way for the public to interact and help protect themselves and help us protect them."