D.C.I.’s Terry Cowman provides a “tour” of new sex offender website.

D.C.I.’s Terry Cowman provides a “tour” of the new sex offender website.

Iowans have a sophisticated new tool for tracking registered sex offenders in the state. Public safety officials Wednesday unveiled a newly redesigned website,  IowaSexOffender.com, that provides detailed information about the more than 5,000 people who have been convicted of sex crimes in Iowa.

Jim Saunders is the assistant director of the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation. He says the website provides information about each offender’s conviction, restrictions on the offender and locations where they may be attending school, working or living.

“It just provides a wealth of information to the general public that they can use to make good decisions about the safety of their families,” Saunders said.

Recent changes in state legislation allows law enforcement to collect more information from registered sex offenders. Those changes prompted the redesign of both the Sex Offender Registry database and the website. Terry Cowman with the Iowa D.C.I. says one of the website’s features is a collection of photos of registrants who recently updated their information.

Cowman says the list changes every half hour. The registrants’ changes might include a new place of employment, a new home address or telephone number. Visitors to the website can scroll over the top of each photo to view the offender’s name and address. Cowman says Iowans can also search the database by entering e-mail addresses, phone numbers or license plate information.

“All sex offenders in the state of Iowa are now required to register their particular Internet identifiers,” Cowman explained. “That could be a nickname they use on Facebook or an e-mail account.” Saunders says the new website is extremely user friendly.

“What excites me about this is the diversity,” Saunders said. “It’s very customizable to the individual user. The e-mail notification piece is something that pushes information based on criteria set by the user, based on the type of information they want.” Iowa D.C.I. Director John Quinn says the updated database benefits the public and law enforcement.

“Just the identification of cell phone numbers, license plates, locations for living…all that information out there assists us in conducting investigations and identifying possible perpetrators of crimes,” Quinn said. The redesign of the website cost $77,000 and was funded through a grant from Iowa Access. A federal Department of Justice grant paid for the creation of the new Iowa Sex Offender Registry database, which cost roughly $180,000.