by J.D. Davidson
Law enforcement agencies and courts throughout Ohio can now be part of a new statewide criminal justice database that Gov. Mike DeWine believes will lead to better public protection and help stop the illegal purchase of firearms.
DeWine said Ohio’s new eWarrants system, which he officially announced the launch of late Wednesday, should improve the accuracy of state and federal background checks and streamline the process to fire warrants and protection orders.
Currently, only two of the state’s 88 counties are part of the system, according to DeWine’s office, but 12 others began taking steps to get online before the announcement. Also, the Ohio Department of Public Safety is working with 19 vendors that supply case management software to Ohio counties to integrate the new program into their systems.
“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 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.”
The program is a shared information technology system free for use by courts and law enforcement. DeWine said it simplifies the process of uploading warrant and protection order information into Ohio’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System and the National Crime Information Center, which are the background-check systems used in gun buys.
Meigs County Common Pleas Court was the first agency to bring the eWarrant system online. DeWine said it 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.
Champaign County Common Pleas Court is also using the system.
“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,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. “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.”
Husted said the state’s InnovateOhio program is funding the program at a cost of $4.7 million.
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J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with The Center Square. An Ohio native, Davidson has more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.