DIGGING DEEPER: Tracking Sex Offenders - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

DIGGING DEEPER: Tracking Sex Offenders




Operated by the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation:

In South Dakota the sex offender registry is managed by the Attorney General's Office/South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation:

The Nebraska State Patrol operates the registry:

If the person is from another state, you may be able to check the internet for that state's sex offender registry. Use a search engine such as Google or Yahoo to find any states registration database online or the national SOR web site at http://www.nsopw.gov/

Do you know who is living in your neighborhood?

There are about 860,000 registered sex offenders living in the United States according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The disappearance of Jacob Wetterling in Minnesota in 1989 grabbed national attention.
The public outcry pushed Congress to set guidelines for sex offender registries.

Here in Siouxland; Nebraska started it's registry 20-years ago.
The current listing shows 44 in Dakota County.
South Dakota started tracking sex offenders in 1994.

There's 38 in Union County.

Iowa launched it's registry in 1995.

Woodbury County has 284 listings.

Like most mothers Jeana Davis wants to protect her children.

"The world is kind of nasty place right now.  Safety is big," said Davis.

That security includes keeping her kids close.

"My daughter can't ride her bike unless I am there and can see her," said Davis.

The sex offender registry helps the public notice who lives in their neighborhood.

"They committed a crime, this is what the law said they have to do.  And, it's our job to make sure they are doing it," said Captain Tony Wingert, Woodbury County Sheriff's Office .

Captain Tony Wingert says several agencies keep track of sex offenders in Woodbury County; including his deputies, Sioux City Police Officers, U.S. Marshals and one agent from the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation.

"Could it be better? Anything in law enforcement if we had more resources we could make it better. The guys work hard at everything they do," said Wingert.

Sioux City Police Detective Nick Thompson is in charge of keeping watch within city limits.

"Sometime they are in violation not on purpose. But, on other occasions they are violating the registry," said Thompson.

Detective Thompson believes the sex offender registry works.  

But, you can't predict when someone might re-offend.

"If a sex offender is attracted to eight-year-old girls there's really no pill or any medication they can take to make them feel differently about that," said Thompson.

Detective Thompson admits they need more resources, but the protection is there.

"It really helps in my opinion keeps them from re-offending again.  They know they have to do all of these checks," said Thompson. 

Those checks include registering in the county where an offender lives and even works.

They give their addresses, names of roommates, information on cars they drive, phone numbers, social media accounts and all email addresses. 

"Our staff here does a good job collecting that information. Because that's all we can rely on is them coming in," said Captain Wingert.

And, that staff at the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office includes Jeana Davis.

As a clerk she comes face-to-face with sex offenders on a daily basis.

"I think I might be a lot stricter because of my job than a lot of parents," said Davis.

Those who know and keep tabs on sex offenders share this advice for all parents in Siouxland.

"Know where they are and keep an eye on them," said Davis.

"Keep an eye out for the grooming process where they want to spend an abnormal amount of time with their child," said Thompson.

"Be aware of your surroundings.  You live at such and such an address address. Search that area," said Wingert. 

Convicted Sex offenders in Iowa are put into three different tiers.

Tier 3 includes the most serious offenders.

They must register in person every three months.

This is similar for Nebraska and South Dakota.

Every offender has different restrictions, including where they can live.

The main thing, it's not always the convicted sex offender you need to worry about.  It's usually someone you already know.  

And, they'll do something called "grooming" where they pay extra attention to one child, so they can gain their trust.

The U.S. Marshals Office plans to compliance checks on every single sex offender in Woodbury County.

It will take place in April and May with help from other local jurisdictions.

Authorities say they rely on tips to help catch violators.

Call your local police or sheriff's department if you have concerns about sex offenders who live near you.

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