History of the Scott County Sex Offender Task Force (SCSOTF):
In March of 2005 a registered sex offender abducted, raped, and murdered 10 year old Jetseta Gage of Linn County. Her body was found a few days later in Johnson County. Prior to the trial the Judge granted a defense motion and the trial was moved to Scott County. The media dubbed the case, “Justice for Jetseta.” The local media were also demanding to know what efforts were being made in Scott County to keep track of registered sex offenders. The national Associated Press picked this as the top Iowa news story of 2005.
With the murder of this innocent child an informal discussions took place among those in Scott County tasked with tracking sex offenders on how to work together in order to more effectively protect the citizens of Scott County.
In 2006 Assistant Scott County Attorney Julie Walton and Davenport Police Detective Rich Tubbs were chosen by the State of Iowa to represent Iowa at a National Sex Offender conference in Orlando, Florida. The focus of this week long conference was how to implement a sex offender task force in your home area.
In October 2006 the first meeting of the Scott County Sex Offender Task Force was held. The seven agencies in attendance were the Bettendorf Police Department, the Davenport Police Department, the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, the Scott County Attorney’s Office, the Scott County Department of Human Services, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Iowa Department of Correctional Services.
In January 2007 a representative of the Bi-State Regional Authority attended the meeting. She presented several different logo options that were designed by the Bi-State Regional Authority for our task force. The logo was adopted at the March 2007 meeting. The four emblems within the logo are the Scales of Justice for the victims of sex crimes, a geographical outline of Scott County, a badge to represent enforcement of the sex offender registry, and a mother and child to represent Scott County families.
With the creation of the Scott County Sex Offender Task Force the ultimate goal was to better serve and protect the citizens of Scott County. This was to be achieved by having better inter-agency communication and coordination.
In July 2007 the first Scott County Sex Offender Sweep took place. The focus of the sweep was to ensure that registered sex offenders were in compliance with the Iowa Sex Offender Registry law. The SCSOTF has been conducting sweeps every year. The Halloween sex offender sweeps have drawn a lot of attention and appreciation from the media and families here in Scott County. On several occasions these sex offender sweeps have been done in coordination with agencies in Rock Island County. These Quad City wide sweeps were very successful.
Besides the sweeps and the day to day business of the sex offender registry another facet of the SCSOTF is the Public Notification. The Iowa code section pertaining to sex offenders is 692A. Under 692A the general public can be informed of a registered sex offender’s residence. This is mostly done through the public Iowa Sex Offender Registry web-site at www.iowasexoffender.com However, news releases and door to door public notifications are also allowed. At the monthly meeting the task force members will discuss those sex offenders who will be coming off parole / probation. A decision will be made as to what level of public notification is appropriate.
In 2008 with the mounting complexity of a seven agency task force tracking 300 sex offenders this pointed to the need for a written joint agreement amongst the agencies. In May 2008 the SCSOTF Partnership Agreement was approved and signed off on by the agency head or representative.
In 2010 two federal agencies officially joined the task force, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the U.S. Probation Office. With the task force now at nine agencies the Partnership Agreement was re-written to better state the goals of the SCSOTF.
In September 2014 the task force expanded again. The Iowa Juvenile Court Services joined the task force. Their experience and insight with those juveniles committing sex crimes were very much appreciated. With an additional agency came an opportunity to once again take a look at the Partnership Agreement. A new Partnership Agreement was signed in May 2015.
During its existence the task force has received countless complaints and concerns about registered sex offenders. The SCSOTF has conducted thousands of residence checks on these sex offenders. Through these complaints and checks, hundreds of registered sex offenders have been arrested. Scott County continues to have the second most sex offenders in the State of Iowa. The goal of the Task Force continues, to work toward a safer Scott County for all children and victims of sex offenders.