Database will help against sex offenders

Sexual predators are crafty in the extreme, and that is a special worry to parents trying to safeguard their children. Now, Ohioans have a new weapon in that fight.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a new state program that uses technology against convicted sex offenders who attempt to find new victims.

Ohio already has detailed lists of sex offenders, available online. Names, offenses and information on residences is available.

Now, Ohioans will be able to use their state’s sex offender database to learn whether phone numbers, email addresses or “screen names” used online belong to convicted sex offenders. Those using the database simply enter phone numbers, email addresses or screen names they want to check, then wait a few seconds for the database to reveal whether there is a match.

If those conducting searches find matches, they are told they should contact their county sheriff or the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Searchers are not given the names of sex offenders whose information matches.

As DeWine noted, the search function is far from a fail-safe technique. It can only use phone numbers, etc., that authorities know are used by those on the sex offender registry. Many sexual predators switch phone numbers and use different email addresses and screen names.

Still, the new tool is a step forward. It may help some Ohioans learn whether people they are in contact with are more dangerous than they admit. Only eight states, counting Ohio, use the technique. This is a big step forward in protecting our children.

It would be nice to believe statistics about illegal drug trafficking in Ohio are evidence of success in fighting it. Nice, but not realistic.

During a conference on drug abuse held this week in Columbus, state Public Safety Director John Born said law enforcement agencies have taken a big bite out of drug crime. The average amount of drugs seized in each arrest is down by more than 75 percent, he explained. Also, police are finding less cash to confiscate from drug pushers.

But the number of drug arrests continues to escalate. And, as some Ohioans are well aware, drug-related violence shows no letup.

Unfortunately, what the statistics may mean is that high-level drug dealers – the ones with lots of cash and big stashes of controlled substances – are getting better at evading arrest.

We hope not. But clearly, there is no reason to believe the drug abuse epidemic is easing. That will happen only if local law enforcement agencies receive maximum support from state and federal governments – and if, as Attorney General Mike DeWine put it, there is “a change in the culture” and individual Ohioans take a greater role in shutting down the pushers in their neighborhoods.