The Ottumwa Courier

January 31, 2008

Police seek help with outstanding warrants

By MATT MILNER, Courier staff writer

OTTUMWA — Are you wanted?

No, really. Is there an arrest warrant out for you?

Chances are there isn’t. But if you want to be sure, you can check the Ottumwa Police Department’s list on the Courier’s Web site.

Police Chief Jim Clark approached the Courier earlier this week about printing the list of 400-plus outstanding arrest warrants from his department. The Internet offers a chance to do that and make the list available to everyone. Visitors to www.ottumwa.com can download a PDF copy of the list onto their home computers. (Click here to download the list.)

Not everyone on the list is a hardened criminal, Clark said. In fact, that’s probably the exception.

“Some people don’t even know there’s a warrant out for their arrest,” he said.

An example is someone who believes an incident was resolved and are not aware they need to be fingerprinted. That person can check the list and make an appointment to be fingerprinted. It’s better to do that than be arrested at a traffic stop when the officer checks for outstanding warrants.

Other people know there is an arrest warrant, and they don’t want to be found. Clark hopes the public can help in those cases by pointing out where people are and giving that information to police.

Under no circumstances should anyone try to catch someone with an active warrant. Clark said people can help by calling police and letting them do their job.

There is precedent for the Ottumwa Police Department using the Internet to help track down people. The department established an Ottumwa’s Most Wanted section through the city’s Web site two years ago.

“That’s worked very well. We’ve received a lot of feedback,” Clark said. “With this I anticipate we’ll receive a number of calls from people.

Clark plans to send the Courier an updated list each week for publication.

Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at mwmilner@mchsi.com