Sex offender tries to volunteer at high school

January 12, 2009 8:40:39 PM PST
Wake County school officials say they have technology to keep their students safe.Last Friday, Raleigh Police say a registered sex offender tried to get onto Athens Drive High School's campus, but a machine alerted them and they were able to call police.

The kiosk inside Athens Drive High reads drivers licenses, then runs a quick background check. If everything is okay, it prints a badge with your name and picture.

If you are flagged, the badge won't print and it notifies school officials.

That's what happened when police say 30-year-old Marcus Johnson tried to volunteer at Athens Drive High School. When he signed in using the school's computer system it flagged his name.

Johnson is a registered sex offender convicted of incest and statutory rape.

"You're putting a perimeter out there that really is keeping the worst kind of person off of your school grounds," Kevin Allen said.

Allen is the president of LobbyGuard. They design and manufacture the machine. It's inside 30 Wake County schools and it's what kept out Johnson.

"If you're a parent or guardian you don't often have the luxury of running a three week background check on that person if they're picking up a child," Allen said. "You need something instant you need something effective and that means sex offender background checking and they get it back in less than a half a second.

In a split second a person's information is cross checked with a database of more than 500,000 registered sex offenders.

Schools can also check for visitors who may be red-flagged for any number of reasons.

"It caught people that were not supposed to be here, so it's working," student Chris Wolfe said.

"Were very fortunate in this area to have very good schools obviously schools conserved with the safety of children and who is coming in and out," parent Mike Close said.

Wake County is working to buy more of the kiosks for other schools.

Meanwhile, as technology becomes more advanced the machines will be able to run more extensive background checks, for things like a violent or criminal background.


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