A new unit to treat dangerous sexual predators was dedicated Monday at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute.
The transition from its current location at the Oakdale Medical and Classification Center won't be finished for several weeks, state officials said. The Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders has been at Oakdale since it was started in 1999.
The program will be housed in a remodeled wing of the Cherokee complex and patients will have no contact with patients at the mental health institute.
Kevin Concannon, director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, said extra precautions were taken to ensure security, including a double fence with razor wire, security cameras and locks and special training for security personnel.
"The litmus test for everything we do is safety, and we've gone the extra mile to make sure this facility is safe for patients, safe for staff and safe for the community," Concannon said.