Marshall County jailer receives award

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS LEFT: Marshall County jailer Laura Arterburn was recognized for her efforts in working with the Iowa Sex Offender Registry last week. Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman praised Arterburn for her diligence in working with the registry and attentiveness in dealing with people listed as sex offenders. RIGHT: Arterburn has worked as a jailer for almost 20 years and has helped update and oversee the Iowa Sex Offender Registry in Marshall County during that time.

After nearly two decades of working with the Iowa Sex Offender Registry, Marshall County jailer Laura Arterburn was astonished to learn she had earned an award for her work.

“You don’t expect to be rewarded for something that’s part of your job,” she said. “It was nice to have some recognition, but it was a big surprise to me.”

Arterburn was the recipient of the Iowa Sex Offender Registry 2018 Excellence in Protection Award this week. The award is given for hard work and dedication in keeping up the registry and ensuring registrants comply with court orders and the law.

“She just does a very good job being diligent in her efforts communicating with the registrants to make sure that the objective of getting them registered and having accountability is upheld,” said Marshall County Sheriff Steve Hoffman.

He said Arterburn’s job requires a deep, evolving understanding of the state law on the registry. Seminars are held regularly to ensure employees like Arterburn are up to date on the rules regarding the registry.

“It really is a sub-specialty that takes a lot of examination to make sure that people are compliant,” Hoffman said. “For example, their definitions are not necessarily what we would understand to be a ‘lay definition.'”

For instance, he said the definition’s of words like ‘residence’ and ‘loitering’ don’t always follow usual dictionary definitions in the state sex offender registry law.

Arterburn has been working with the registry since she started her career as a jailer in 1999. She described some of her duties when it comes to dealing with the registry and registrants.

“Once they’ve been ordered by the court to register as a sex offender, they have to come to the sheriff’s office to do it,” Arterburn said. “They have to come out and … we put them in the system, it’s a database for the state of Iowa, and then they get their picture taken and their fingerprints and it goes on a public website.”

Hoffman and Arterburn said the job requires a lot of interaction with those listed in the registry in Marshall County.

“You just chat with them, visit with them and make sure that everything’s up to date,” Arterburn said.

Hoffman said she does a good job of working with a “challenging” population. Arterburn said she enjoys her career, despite its difficulties.

“It’s a very rewarding job,” she said. “It can be kind of hard, depending on how you feel about what their crime was, if it was a child or just an ugly crime.”

Hoffman said despite the compliance efforts of jailers like Arterburn and her two colleagues, it is also up to parents and child caretakers to keep kids safe.

“Obviously, the registry itself and exclusion zones, they are not to be confused with parents and caretakers being vigilant and diligent in their own right,” he said. “The registry itself can’t protect people — it is a tool for parents and caretakers to have an awareness.”


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