Ohio’s new eWarrants interface is designed to improve the accuracy of state and federal background checks and streamline the process for filing warrants and protection orders.
This month Ohio launched a new statewide criminal justice tool for law enforcement, judges and clerks that simplifies the process of uploading warrant and protection order information into background check systems. The new eWarrants system is designed to prevent inadvertent gun sales to wanted criminals and help law enforcement identify individuals with outstanding warrants and open protection orders.
The eWarrants shared IT system will improve the accuracy of state and federal background checks, streamline the process for filing warrants and protection orders and allow warrants and protection orders to be visible statewide, in real time.
A 2019 report from the governor’s Warrant Task Force stated that the fragmented and paper-based warrant entry practices used by many courts and law enforcement agencies led to “an untold number” of arrest warrants and protection orders slowly or never being entered into Ohio’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS), the system that ultimately feeds data into the federal government’s criminal background database known as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC).
The task force found that “of the 217,052 warrants in LEADS, only 18,117 were entered into NCIC.” Plus, because entering warrants into LEADS was not required, the number outstanding warrants was unknown. The task force said it believed there could “easily be in excess of 500,000” open warrants statewide.
“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,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a press statement. “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, the state’s initiative to improve data sharing and analytics across agencies, worked with the Department of Public Safety and Department of Administrative Services to develop the new eWarrants database. Installation and use of the interface is free to all Ohio law enforcement agencies and courts, though its use is not mandated.
As the first agency to bring the eWarrant system online, Meigs County Common Pleas Court cut its bench warrant filing time to as little as 12 minutes down from a days-long process that required manually transferring paperwork between agencies and duplicative data entry into multiple case management systems.
Now, data that is properly entered into eWarrants is automatically forwarded to LEADS and NCIC. Additionally, agencies can integrate eWarrants with their existing record management systems, officials said.