The Gordon County Sheriff’s Office, Calhoun Police Department, Gordon County Magistrate Court, and Gordon County Information Technology Department have collaborated to begin use of the Criminal Justice Technologies, online warrant program.
The warrant program will bring law enforcement in Gordon County and Calhoun City into the digital age, allowing for more efficient and speedier arrest warrant preparations.
Additionally, law enforcement agents will have the ability to video chat with judges for warrant approval as opposed to physically appearing before a judge, as with the current system.
“This is designed, at this time, just to populate warrants, instead of driving down and sitting in front of the judge. If I needed a warrant right now, instead of me having to go to the typewriter, typing it all out, drive on down there (to the judge), I can from any desk, quickly fill out a warrant,” said Major Pat Bedford, Commander of the Judicial Bureau of the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office.
The new program, for now, will only pertain to arrest warrants, and a physical paper warrant will be in hand at the time it is served, said Bedford, but all collaborating agencies agree the new program will be cost efficient in regards to manpower, labor hours, and materials used.
“The system will be a tremendous aid to officers in the performance of their duties, and will cut down on time and resources used,” said a spokesperson from the Calhoun City Police Department.
Warrants will be able to be duplicated to a disc, as opposed to a stack of papers or file folder, potentially saving thousands of dollars on materials, according to Gordon County Chief Deputy Sheriff Robert Paris, who said going digital in areas other than warrants, has already saved the Sheriff’s Office $10,000 in one year on ink cartridges alone.
Currently, the program is in the final testing phases and will not go live until all kinks are worked out, according to Bedford, who has helped implement the program from its inception approximately four months ago.
“Its just taking advantage of technology out there. That’s probably the big selling point of this type of system, the time and money saved, in turn we can focus time and money elsewhere, its going to keep more patrol cars on the street and free detectives up on cases,” said Bedford.
If law enforcement agents can create warrants faster, and a judge can approve a warrant and set bond for an individual in custody, time spent incarcerated may be cut down, depending on the crime or infraction, according to Bedford.
One aspect, allowing the warrant preparation to flow smoothly are the digital signatures used with the warrant program so a judge and law enforcement agents, can access warrants from computers using individually and specially assigned passwords.
Potential security issues with the program are minimal, according to Gordon County Director of Information Technology Brian McClellan.
“There is really nothing in the program that could be hacked per say, because the officer enters information in which goes directly to the judge, who has to affix his [digital] signature to it and then it comes back to the officer,” said McClellan. “Its actually more secure, because it cuts down on the actual movement of paper back and forth between the offices, so you are a lot less likely for a piece of paper to go missing.”
Additionally, other safeguards are in place to ensure information is not entered twice on one person by mistake; the inability of other users tampering with warrant information filled out by another law enforcement officer, and upon the judge’s digital signature approval of the warrant, no changes are permitted to be made, via the system, according to Bedford.
Online warrant programs and systems like it are used in other jurisdictions, according to Bedford, and each program has to be formatted to fit the needs of the particular jurisdiction.
“There are similar systems used in other jurisdictions already that are highly efficient with very little drawback. It will have bugs to work out initially, but we don’t anticipate any major problems,” according to a spokesperson form the Calhoun City Police Department.
The specifications for Gordon County and Calhoun City are waiting final testing to ensure proper functioning before going live, which will be any day, according to Bedford, who says web cameras are the only parts waiting to be installed before final testing can begin before going live.
The online warrant program is a test program, which is being utilized free of charge from Criminal Justice Technologies, according to Bedford, who says it will be of no cost to taxpayers.