Trick or treating safety in the palm of your hand - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Trick or treating safety in the palm of your hand

For kids, Halloween is all about the fun of getting to dress up as their favorite super hero or maybe even a spooky ghost or creepy zombie. But for parents, the scary reality is their kids may be knocking on somebody’s door they know nothing about. A new app, AlertID, is designed to change that, letting you know which nearby homes belong to registered sex offenders and giving you the heads up before you ring that doorbell.

Katy Collins is a mother of two little girls: four-year-old Chloe and two-year-old Rachel. For her, it’s all about making sure her kids have the best time possible.

“Get dressed up and have fun,” Collins said. “Going into neighborhoods that you're familiar with. It’s a good time to go visit people you know and show off your children. They just love getting dressed up. It's just a fun time to act silly.”

Even though it’s all about a good time, safety is always on the front of Collins’ mind.

“Safety is the most important thing,” she said. “You want to have a good time. The end result is having a good time, but being safe.”

Collins said she already follows a few ground rules that she made for her own family.

“I don't go to neighborhoods where I don't know people and I only go to homes where there are lights on and look like they're inviting, have decorations and look like there’s lots of people,” Collins said. “We don't go out by ourselves, only where there are crowds of people.”

And with two young daughters, she is never far away.

“They're still so young,” Collins said. “I may stand a few feet from the door. They like to look back and see that mommy is close by.”

But until now, Collins has never looked up who on the sex offender registry lives nearby.

“I think maybe I would like to know to help avoid,” she said. “I would hate to cause judgment on anybody, but it’s a scary world out there.”

Collins sat down and took a look at the app that literally put that knowledge right in her fingertips.

“I’m really kind of afraid of what I’m going to find,” she said as it was downloading.

Once installed, the application’s map zoomed to her location.

“Well there’s not any in the direct area of where we will be trick or treating after all,” Collins said. “I’m glad to know it's not in our area. Now that I’m seeing them it's kind of nerve wracking.”

The app works anywhere you are using your phone’s GPS. The application will open a map with icons of where registered sex offenders live. Users can then click on any icon, telling them the name of the registered offender as well as opening the offender’s full Department of Public Safety report. That report includes information on the crime they committed as well as the offender’s most recent picture.

“This would be, I guess handy for little areas that you're going to,” Collins said. “Check out the neighborhoods that you're going to ahead of time. “I’m going to recommend this to my friends and coworkers also before they take their children.”

Local law enforcement said many sex offenders are not prohibited from activities such as decorating their houses or even handing out candy. The rules sex offenders are required to follow on Halloween are determined on a case by case basis. Therefore, if it is not stipulated in their parole or probation, they are allowed to participate.

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