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First there was eCommerce and then you could eFile your taxes, now Shelby County's law enforcement community is cashing in on the ease of it all.
The Kentucky Attorney General's office completed its installation of the eWarrant system in the 53rd District - which includes Shelby, Anderson and Spencer counties - Thursday, joining seven other counties currently using that software.
The program allows the electronic filing of complaints, authorized by judges in district and circuit courts, warrants to be issued and the information updated.
The district is the first to have the program installed under the $4 million American Resource and Recovery Act (ARRA) grant. eWarrant should be up and running in 100 rural counties by the end of the 2011.
"This is very, very important for local law enforcement," said Commonwealth Attorney Jack Conway, who was on hand Thursday morning for the announcement in Shelby County. "With the paper warrants, we had about a 23 to 25 percent service rate. Now with the new system we're in excess of 80 percent, so far."
Conway said this program is part of his ongoing commitment to bring Kentucky's law enforcement into the 21st century.
"We're trying modernize the way we do things," he said. "This is very, very exciting. It's part of a new era in law enforcement, and we want to continue using technology to keep us up to speed."
Already paying off
The system was put in place on Tuesday, and in about 48 hours the three counties were already seeing how much more efficient the new system will be. Fifteen warrants, 14 bench and one arrest, have been issued and served in that time.
The speed and effectiveness with which warrants can be filed, reviewed and served can be shocking.
One complaint was issued into the server at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon by the Shelbyville Police Department. By 2 p.m. it had been signed and issued as a warrant, and by 2:18 it was entered into the Law Enforcement Information Network of Kentucky (LINK) system. Seven minutes later it was served and processed out of LINK by 2:53.
The key to the efficiency was how the information was shared.
"I was looking through the system at the new warrants, like I'm trying to train myself to do now, and I noticed a name I knew," Shelby County Sheriff Mike Armstrong said. "So I called and told them [Shelbyville PD] where he [the suspect] would be, so we could serve the warrant. I may not have caught that name if it came through on a paper warrant. That's two agencies working together when before we may not have been able to do that."
The system is also more efficient for judges.
District Court Judge Linda Armstrong said she now can work on requests from any county no matter where she's working.
"Everything from all three counties comes directly to my inbox," she said. "If I authorize a warrant, it could be on LINK within 15 minutes. Now, when we're on call, police officers don't have to hunt us down to sign warrants."
Armstrong said she can sign warrants from any computer, at home or work, and even from her phone.
"The Campbell County judge was approving warrants from her phone while in St. Croix," she said.