PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla-- An arm injury has Officer Justin Kerns on light duty, so the sex offender coordinator with the Port St. Lucie police department has to get creative with his investigations. Recently, he was on Facebook and discovered that a man named Gernard Clark had an account.
He checked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's website, and found the 38 year-old Clark had not notified the FDLE he had it.
"He was under no probation, he was under no restriction for internet use so he could have very simply just told us he had the page," said Officer Kerns.
Kerns says he went to Clark's home and verified it was his Facebook account. Clark was arrested on a felony count of failing to report an email address instant message name. Kerns says this is part of a victim centered approach to sex offender management.
"You want to keep him from his prior victim that got him on the sex offender registry and you want to prevent him from acquiring new victims," said Officer Kerns.
Although it's not a violation of the law for a registered sex offender to have a Facebook page, they do have to let law enforcement know of any "instant message names" that they use online. For its part, Facebook says registered sex offenders are not supposed to be using its service in the first place.
"Facebook doesn't do background checks on everyone who makes an account so it's up to us to find those guys who are on there when they're not supposed to be," said Kerns.
Kerns said Clark claimed not to know about the restriction but Kerns found other internet names for Clark on-line and added every sex offender is read aloud all the rules by the clerk at the sheriff's office each time they register.
Right now there are 350 registered sex offenders in St. Lucie County. Wherever you live, the FDLE has on its website, a sex offender database where you can enter your address and find out who the sex offenders are living in your neighborhood. For more information, click here .