County Sheriff’s Department Lauches Web Page
The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office now has its own web page and social media with Facebook. The web page, which was started several months ago, and has almost everything that Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes wanted included as well as having their own social media page on Facebook
The web site includes information on the three branches of the sheriff’s department as well as warrants, news releases and sending an anonymous tip.
“It’s really turning out to be a positive influence,” Schultes said. “There is a lot of information on our sight and what I really like is the Send Anonymous Tip tab and we have gotten several tips, most have been drug related.”
According to Schultes, when a person submits a tip, the tip comes directly from the wed site and is not attached to anyone or any email address and they cannot find out where it came from.
“Some people are afraid to have their name brought up in the course of an investigation and we try to keep the name as secret as we can, but when the case goes to court, we cannot always keep their identity hidden,” Schultes explained. “By sending an anonymous tip, we have no idea where it cam from. I think as we promote the website the anonymous tips will start to increase.”
Another popular tab is the Warrants tab. With warrants coming in and being served regularly, it is impossible to update this tab more than once a week. Some very important things to remember that are under this tab is: 1. Don’t approach anyone you believe is wanted; consider him or her dangerous, 2. A warrant is just an accusation and 3. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
Schultes urges people to call the sheriffs office and not rely solely on the website with any questions on the warrants tab and to remember the information isn’t always 100% since it is only updated weekly.
“I think that it’s important for people to realize, a warrant is just an accusation. It is not a presumption of guilt and the person is considered innocent until proven otherwise. It is simply a court process we have to go through,” Schultes said.
The Jail tab is full of information that pertains only to the jail. Jailers do al lot more than just watch inmates. The jail is responsible for the care and well being of inmates. Jailers also are in contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials and other states regarding inmates.
“Something that we just started and not many other counties are doing yet is electronic monitoring of work release inmates. We put a bracelet on them before they leave and we can follow them on the Internet through a GPS system. They still must stay in contact with us by phone. We have not had any real problems with a work release inmate but why wait until something does happen,” Schultes commented. “Even when the inmate is out on work release, they are still in our custody and we are responsible for them. It’s just another way to ensure they are doing what they say and to keep the public safe.”
The communication center is the hub of the Sheriff’s Office. It is where every 911 call from the county comes into. Dispatchers are responsible for handling and dispersing all incoming calls, proper documentation as well as monitoring the courthouse and jail. Recently, the communication center was updated with some new technology that utilizes computer aided dispatch technology to help gather, dispatch and document all activities.
There are many links to various important sites that can be found throughout the tabs. The most important ones to the public are found on the Home page.
Schultes commented that a hot topic has been the adoption of Palo Alto County’s ATV/UTV Ordinance recently and the sheriff’s office has fielded many questions regarding it.
“A major question that has come up is the speed. It was mentioned somewhere that the speed would be 55 mph (miles per hour). The speed limit for ATV’s is set by the Iowa Code and it is no faster that 35 mph,” Schultes held. ” The definition of “highway” is also confusing for some. A highway is not just a cement road. A highway is the entire width between property lines that is open to public use, so a gravel road would be considered a highway.”
Schultes has taken the time to link some important information from the Iowa Code to this ordinance to help people better understand it. He feels that it is important for people to get all the information needed on a subject, so information from the Iowa Code is included.
Another hot and important topic that is confusing to people is the Permit the Carry and the Renewal permit to carry. The Sheriff’s Department has sent out or will be sending out letters to anyone having a permit expire this year with an explanation for renewal.
“It needs to be looked at as updating your existing permit, which can be done one of two ways,” Schultes began, “First the person can choose to renew his permit. The renewal process requires that the holder come anytime prior to 30 days before the expiration date. With this choice, the fee is $25 and you must have taken a safety course in the prior 12 months. Even if you have discharge papers (DD214) from the military, you must still take a course. These courses can cost up to $50 or more so now you are looking at $75 total.
“The other choice the person has is to get a new permit to carry. This is done 29 days or less prior to expiration of the current permit. To renew your permit in the manner, a person must pay a $50 fee; however, their prior safety training and a DD214 are accepted. This means there is no extra cost for safety training.”
The rules for obtaining your first permit to carry remain the same: $50 fee and safety training. Wit this being such a confusing subject, Schultes recommends anyone with questions to stop or call the office for answers.
Schultes explained the original county website concept by saying that when the concept was first being discussed, the main question was how can we benefit the citizens of the county. Accessibility was the answer. A person can pull up the most current county information from anywhere. This should be time saving for those how have to hassle with coming to town with any questions.
With the addition of the website and Facebook page along with the electronic monitoring for work release, the County continues to move forward into the technological age, Schultes commented the Sheriff’s Office to be proactive not reactive, meaning it’s a lot easier to prevent crime before it happens.
“I urge people to use the website, like us on Facebook and provide feedback. Any suggestions you might have for what we should include on either site is appreciated and feedback helps us to continue to strive to become a better department for our county.”
You can visit the web page at www.paloaltosheriff.com or by searching Facebook for Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office.
You can also find a link to the sheriff’s website on the county web site which is www.paloaltocountyiowa.com.