The latest crime data for Polk County are for 2016. In that year, the county recorded 2,051 violent crimes and 14,169 property crimes. Compared to 2012 crime figures, these represent a 40.5% jump in violent crime rate and a 10.5% drop in property crime rate. A closer look at the 2016 crime data for the county shows that there were 22 murders, 228 rapes, 377 robberies, and 1,424 aggravated assaults. Incidences of property crimes include 2,990 burglaries, 9,745 larcenies, 1,359 motor vehicle thefts, and 75 arsons.
The five-year crime trend for Polk County shows that murder (175%), rape (44.3%), robbery (33.7%), aggravated assault (40.7%), and motor vehicle theft (34.3%) rates went up. On the other hand, burglary, larceny, and arson rates went down by 12.8%, 13.8%, and 9.6% respectively.
The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) of the Iowa Department of Public Safety provides criminal history checks for all the counties in the state. Members of the public can request an Iowa criminal history check on the Iowa Criminal Record Check website. This option does not require obtaining a waiver from the subject of the background check. However, the report obtained is not complete or certified.
To obtain a certified criminal background report, visit the Criminal History Record Dissemination Unit of the DCI at 215 East 7th Street, Des Moines, Iowa with a government-issued photo ID. The office opens to the public from Monday to Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. You can also submit a request for a criminal history check by mail or fax. To do so, download a Criminal History Request form and a Criminal History billing form. Note, you need a request form for each name when requesting background checks on multiple persons. However, a billing form can cover payment for all the checks requested at the same time.
Fax these documents to (515) 725-6080 or mail them to:
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
Support Operations Bureau, 1st Floor
215 E. 7th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
The Iowa DCI charges $15 for each criminal history check. This fee is payable with cash, check, and money order.
Crime, incident, and accident reports written by the Deputies of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office are available at the Patrol Headquarters located at 6023 NE 14th Street, Des Moines. The office opens from Monday to Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Its phone number is (515) 286-3306. The fee for each report is $10.
The Iowa Code Chapter 692A establishes a statewide sex offender registry and makes this available to the public. To find registered sex offenders, use the search functions of the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. A simple name search will bring up matching individuals. You can also restrict your search to Polk County by selecting it from the county menu on the Advanced Search page. Use the Map Search function to see all registered offenders living in your neighborhood. Members of the public can also search the Iowa Sex Offender Registry by postal code, email address, plate number, and telephone number.
The Polk County Jail is the largest correctional facility in Iowa. Its address is 1985 NE 51st Pl., Des Moines while its phone number is (515) 323-5400. To deposit money into an inmate account, visit www.smartdeposit.com. Chose Iowa and Polk County from the State and Facility menus. Provide an Inmate Identification number and follow the instructions on the page to make a deposit.
The only trial court in Polk County is the District Court located in:
Polk County Courthouse
500 Mulberry Street
Des Moines, IA 50309-4238
Phone: (515) 286-3772
This location also houses the offices of the Clerk of Court and Court Administration. You can find the records of this court online using the Iowa Courts Online Search portal. To obtain copies of these records, visit the Clerk of Court’s Office or call (515) 286-3765.
Divorce records for Polk County are maintained by the Clerk of the District Court. To get copies of your record, visit the Office of the Clerk in Polk County Courthouse or call (515) 286-3772 to ask for specific information.
The Vital Records section of the Recorder’s Office provides certified copies of birth, death, and marriage certificates in Polk County. To obtain these vital records, download and complete an Application for a Certified Copy. Include a photocopy of a valid photo ID and have the signature on the document notarized. Bring or send this written request along with payment to the Polk County Recorder’s Office. The mailing address for the Recorder’s Office is:
Vital Records Division
111 Court Avenue Ste 245
Des Moines, IA 50309-2251
The Recorder’s Office charges a non-refundable fee of $20 for record search and one certified copy of the vital record requested. Each additional copy of the same record costs $20. Cash is accepted for in-person requests. For mail requests, the Recorder accepts checks and money orders made out to “Polk County Recorder”.
Are Property Records Open to the Public in Polk County?
According to the Iowa Open Records Law, anyone can exercise a right to search for, inspect, or obtain copies of Polk County property records. Under the law, property records are open to all interested persons who submit requests to the county's record keeper.
Where and How to Find Property Records in Polk County
The Polk County Assessor's Office maintains property records in the county. The primary responsibility of the Assessor's Office is to assess and value all real properties in the county unless otherwise stated by law. Assessed properties are classed into commercial, residential, multi-residential, agricultural, and industrial categories. The office establishes a full or partial value, depending on new improvements or construction on the property as of January 1st every other year.
Parties interested in Polk County property records can make requests to the Assessor's Office. Requests should describe the desired records and contain details such as addresses, names, parcel numbers, and other known specifics. Interested persons should submit requests to the:
Polk County Administration Building
111 Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: (515) 286-3140
Fax: (515) 286-3386
Hours: 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, Mondays through Fridays
The Polk County Auditor's Office further maintains real estate records for property tax purposes. The office tracks all ownership transfers and maintains related documents, including right-of-way easements, contracts, and deeds. Requestors may reach out to the Auditor's Office at:
Polk County Auditor's Office
111 Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309
How to Look Up Polk County Property Records
The Polk County Assessor's Office maintains an online database for county property records through its Property Search page. Records may be obtained by providing the property address and the owner's first and last names. Users may also find information by providing a parcel or geo-parcel ID, as well as legal details. If searching by address, requestors should not include the street direction (N, S, E, W, NW, SE, SW) or a suffix (Ave, Dr, Blvd, Hwa, Ct, Pkway).
The database shows specific location details, ownership information, and photographs. Other available details include the property's current value, auditor's adjustments to value, land measurements, permits, and sales history.
Interested persons may also use the County Auditor's Real Estate Records page. Users may search the provided real estate map by ownership, street address, and tax parcel numbers. There is also a Transfer Index Search for ownership transfers, especially where the transfer affects taxation.