Schools test system to identify sex offenders

WAUWATOSA (WITI) -- New technology tracks who is inside schools, and can help keep pedophiles out. The system is already in some buildings in Illinois, and it's being tested in at least two districts locally.

Betty Marks is the first line of defense at Wauwatosa West High School.

"I take it very seriously. I've got a building full of over 1,000 students and staff members that I care for," Marks said.

It is part of Marks' job to screen people who enter the school, and for the past few months, she's been testing a visitor management system made by Raptor. Each person entering the building must present a state ID.

The card information is scanned, and the visitor's image, destination and check-in time is printed on a sticker and recorded in a database.

Oconomowoc's Principal Joseph Moylan is testing the system as well -- and says it allows schools to get a real-time snapshot of who is inside the building in the event of a fire.

As the system checks people in, Raptor's website says the information is checked against the sex offender databases in all 50 states.

Matt Newman manages the buildings in Oconomowoc, and says if a name matches that of a sex offender, administrators are immediately alerted by email or text message.

The total setup costs the district about $12,000, but critics may argue the sex offender database is free of charge to use.

Additionally, even if the Raptor system was in place for years, it wouldn't have stopped people like 43-year-old Anthony Pico.

Pico had no prior criminal record before he was convicted of first degree child sexual assault.

In April of 2012, he was volunteering in an Oconomowoc elementary school when he was accused of fondling a young girl.

"Nothing is going to catch everybody who did this, but it's the best effort in making sure kids are safe," Oconomowoc Principal Joseph Moylan said.

Wauwatosa's Safety Coordinator Dale Weiss has plans to roll out the system in all 16 schools. He says the district can take advantage of customized alerts -- warning staff about problems outside the classroom, such as expelled students trying to get back in.

"It's one more step to let them know we're watching," Weiss said.

However, there is no guarantee of complete security.

"If someone wants in, they're going to come in. I'm not sure any of this automation or me are going to stop them," Marks said.

Educators say the technology helps schools get in line with a new state law demanding sex offenders give schools proper notice if they make a visit.

Both districts say checking for offenders is only a small part of what the total system offers.