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County Seeks Own Sex Offender Notification System

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors directed staff today to seek funding for a county-operated system to notify residents when a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood.

The unanimous vote came in the wake of the rape-murders of two North County teenagers at the hands of a man who had previously served prison time for sexually assaulting a neighbor girl.

The deaths of Amber Dubois, 14, and Chelsea King, 17, at the hands of John Albert Gardner III were "a violent reminder" that the county needs to "explore new ways to protect our children from sexual predators," said Supervisor Bill Horn, who brought the proposal before the board.

Current online information on the locations of registered sex offenders is "out of date, not user-friendly," Horn said.

Authorities who conducted a sweep of registered sex offenders within a five-mile radius of Rancho Bernardo Community Park after King disappeared during a jog on Feb. 25 did not know to check the nearby residence of Gardner's mother.

The reason -- revealed at a Monday news conference regarding the Gardner investigation -- was because he was registered at another home in the Riverside County community of Lake Elsinore, and police didn't realize he was staying with his mother.

Horn's proposed system would allow county residents to sign up to be notified by e-mail when a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood. The e-mail would contain the offender's name, address and photograph.

It would also have the county maintain an online pin map showing where sex offenders are registered and, while it may not have solved the mix-up involving Gardner, Horn hopes it will be more up-to-date than the state version.

County staff will return with a report within 60 days.

In other action today, the board tentatively approved an ordinance to set up 22 locations where residents can drop off unused prescription drugs.

More than 2,500 pounds of pills were turned in at a special collection event in April, demonstrating the need for permanent drop off sites, according to board President Pam Slater-Price.

The supervisors hope that having permanent drop off sites will reduce prescription drug abuse.

Final adoption of the measure is scheduled for June 22.

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