Last week, local law enforcement and court officials attended classes to learn about the new state electronic warrant system.
The eWarrants, which are available online, “do away with all paper warrants that had to be mailed,” according to Acting Chief Steve Johnson of Hodgenville City Police.
The network allows officers to electronically file complaints, which can be viewed and signed by judges. Officers can act immediately in making an arrest rather than waiting hours or days.
Under the old system, a warrant that was issued and signed in another county was sent to the circuit clerk’s office for processing and then mailed to LaRue County, Johnson said. A backlog in the service of warrants could allow a person charged with a violent crime to evade arrest.
Now, as soon as someone doesn’t show up in court, the judge can issue the bench warrant electronically. The judge also can sign search or arrest warrants electronically from a home computer or by cell phone.
LaRue District Judge C. Derek Reed was able to utilize the technology in court last week for the first time.
The system eliminates lost or misplaced paper warrants and reduces the cost of postage used to mail them.
Eventually, eWarrants will be used across the state. Already, the names of 456 LaRue Countians with outstanding warrants in the 26 counties using the system are entered in the network.
“They could be people who at the time (of the charge), lived in LaRue County and some are deceased,” Johnson said. “But if you are on this list a valid warrant or criminal summons does exist.”
“There is no telling how many (warrants will show up) when Hardin, Bullitt and Grayson Counties are added,” he said.
The 10th Judicial Circuit, which includes LaRue, Hart and Nelson Counties, is the latest to implement the system which was paid for by a $3.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant (federal stimulus funds) awarded to the Office of the Attorney General in 2009.
Training was provided by the Office of the Attorney General in partnership with the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and Open Portal Solutions, Inc. It was held at the Brockman Center, Campbellsville University. Members of the sheriff’s office, clerk’s office and county attorney’s office also attended.
“Thirty-three years ago, I would have told you you were crazy if you had said we were able to do all this by computer,” said Johnson, who has spent most of his career dealing with mounds of paperwork.
Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties were rollout sites in September.
Kentucky’s eWarrant system began as a pilot project in 2005 to address a backlog of nearly 300,000 un-served warrants in the state. Johnson said a state technician “entered all the warrant files last year and verified them.” The Attorney General’s office said the eWarrant system should increase the service rate on arrest warrants from 25 to 80 percent.