Meigs County First to Implement New Warrant System in the State
The free, modernized, streamlined system will improve the accuracy of Ohio’s current background check process.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Meigs County officials were on hand in Columbus today for the announcement of a new system designed to make warrants and background checks easier and faster.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted today announced the official launch of Ohio’s new eWarrants system, a statewide criminal justice database that will improve the accuracy of state and federal background checks and streamline the process to file warrants and protection orders in Ohio.
Present for the announcement from Meigs County were Meigs County Common Pleas Judge Linda Warner, Meigs County Clerk of Courts Sammi Mugrage, Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood, and Meigs County Deputy Brandy King. Meigs County Common Pleas Court, which was the first agency to bring the eWarrant system online, has reduced its bench warrant filing time to as little as 12 minutes, as opposed to the previous days-long process that involved the hand-to-hand transfer of paperwork between agencies and duplicative data entry into multiple case management systems.
The eWarrants system is a workflow or communication system that allows work to flow electronically between the courts, clerk of courts and law enforcement. The eWarrants system circulates paperwork and data between the three departments without physical papers being shuffled between departments. Without the delay or reentry of warrant and protection order information between the departments the eWarrants system will increase officer and victim safety. Warrants and protection orders will not be backed up as in the past until it could be processed.
“With the eWarrants system as quickly as I sign, electronically, a warrant, it is immediately loaded into LEADS. No carrying of papers between the offices and no waiting for someone to enter the warrant or protection order into LEADS,” Judge Warner told the Meigs Independent Press, ”As I mentioned, civil protection orders will also follow the same workflow and be immediately in the system for service on respondents. In addition to getting victims/survivors safer more quickly, in those situations where a DV CPO calls for the temporary suspension of firearms rights, that firearms disability is immediately in the system so that respondent or offender cannot purchase firearms.”
The new eWarrants interface is a shared information technology system free for use by courts and law enforcement that simplifies the process of uploading warrant and protection order information into Ohio’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), which are the background-check systems used to prevent inadvertent gun sales to wanted criminals and to aid law enforcement in identifying those with outstanding warrants and open protection orders.
Governor DeWine ordered the development of the eWarrants technology after an analysis by his Warrant Task Force discovered that an untold number of Ohio arrest warrants and protection orders were slow to be – or never – entered into LEADS and NCIC due to the fragmented, inefficient, and technologically-obsolete warrant entry practices in use by many courts and law enforcement agencies in Ohio.
“We developed the new eWarrants system to help our criminal justice agencies overcome the information-sharing barriers that have left dangerous holes in our background check systems,” said Governor DeWine. “Agencies that use the eWarrants interface will be able to get up-to-date, comprehensive information into the hands of law enforcement nationwide almost immediately so that they can better protect the public, protect themselves, and prevent the illegal purchase of firearms.”
InnovateOhio coordinated the development of the new eWarrants database between the Ohio Department of Public Safety and Ohio Department of Administrative Services. Use and installation of the interface is available at no charge to all law enforcement agencies and courts in the state and can be integrated to work with record management vendor systems that agencies already have in place. Use of eWarrants is not mandated, but the benefits to public safety and officer safety make this new interface an incredibly valuable tool.
“The eWarrant database will also serve as an important efficiency tool for Ohio’s law enforcement agencies, freeing up time and resources for other law-enforcement priorities,” said Lt. Governor Husted. “We encourage our local criminal justice partners to take advantage of this free and efficient system, which will make the filing process for warrants faster and background checks more accurate. This will save lives and tax dollars.”
In addition to Meigs County, the Champaign County Common Pleas Court also recently began using eWarrants, and the Ohio Department of Public Safety is currently conducting outreach to additional agencies in all 88 counties to encourage use of the free system.
The development of the eWarrant system is just one component of the DeWine-Husted Administration’s comprehensive plan to help law enforcement increase the number of warrants in the state and federal background check systems and reduce crime in Ohio communities overall. Since taking office in 2019, the number of Ohio warrants entered in NCIC by Ohio law enforcement agencies has increased over 1,000 percent from 18,117 in March 2019 to 220,206 in June 2022. The administration also created the Ohio Prisoner Extradition Reimbursement Program, which reimburses local agencies for the cost of extraditing dangerous wanted offenders who have been arrested out-of-state or in another jurisdiction on an outstanding warrant.
Other assistance for first responders developed by this administration since 2019 include the creation of the Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center, Ohio School Safety Center, Ohio Office of Law Enforcement Recruitment, Ohio Office of First Responder Wellness, Ohio Ballistics Testing Initiative, Ohio Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, Ohio Crime Lab Efficiency Program, Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program, and Ohio Court Backlog Reduction Program.