DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The day after the Buena Vista County sheriff's
department found a newborn boy at a county recycling center more than a
ago, its Web site got about 1,000 hits.
Although the leads in that case have been few, Sheriff Chuck Eddy said
the Web site serves a purpose.
"It's important to keep the public informed and give them as much
information as we can to help maybe spur something in someone's memory,"
Web sites aren't a new concept for sheriffs, but its mission has changed
in some counties.
Some department sites include photographs and descriptions of sexual
predators and wanted people, missing-person lists and investigation
The state sheriff's association doesn't track how many departments have
adapted their Web sites to be like the one in Buena Vista County, but
similar ones have been created in Cass and Story counties. Marshall County
officials want to update their four-year-old sheriff Web site by July.
"It's something that's taken off in the last year or so," said Ted
Kamatchus, the Marshall County sheriff and past president of the Iowa
Sheriffs and Deputies Association.
"Not everybody gets The Des Moines Register or the Marshalltown
Times-Republican. This allows us to bridge that gap and get in touch
directly with them."
Kamatchus said authorities got the idea from departments in other states.
In Maricopa County, Ariz., authorities post live video of inmates being
booked in the jail.
The cost of adding software and programs is low, authorities said.
Cass County authorities paid a high school student about $300 to write
programs. Buena Vista County's sheriff department spent up to two years
$1,500 to update the Web site, Eddy said.
Roger Muri, Atlantic's police chief and a member of the Iowa Association
of Chiefs of Police and Peace Officers, said county sheriff departments
more arrest warrant information than city police departments.
"The downside of it is that it's fairly labor-intensive to keep updated
all the time," Muri said.
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For now, it's too early to tell how effective the sites will be,