RALEIGH, N.C. — Wake County law enforcement, courthouse staff and magistrates began using an electronic arrest warrant system, NCAWARE (North Carolina Arrest Warrant Repository) on Wednesday.
The Web-based system is designed to help authorities issue and track warrants across jurisdictions for wanted persons in the state. The system alerts probation officers when an offender they are supervising is arrested or convicted and when a warrant or order for arrest is issued, officials said.
Officers can see daily updates when offenders are arrested or convicted, officials said.
NCAWARE was launched in June 2008 in Johnston County. On Wednesday, Wake County became the eighth county in the state to start using the program. Harnett, Lee, Edgecombe, Nash, Wilson and Greene counties are also utilizing the program. Officials hope to have all counties using the system by 2010.
The $13 million program was launched as state officials worked to fix problems brought to light in the wake of last year's slayings of Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior Eve Carson.
Suspects in both those shootings were on probation at the time of the crimes. An internal investigation into their cases found the suspects whom the probation system had overlooked, in part, because of heavy caseloads and there not being a central system from which probation officers could obtain court information about offenders.
“This is going to be a great improvement from what we’ve had in the past,” Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.
During a routine traffic stop, a law enforcement officer can use NCAWARE to get the information needed to apprehend someone who is wanted for other offenses. Officers can print a pre-existing warrant from a computer and take the suspect directly into custody.
“It’s going to make it a safer state, safer county, because we’re able to get violators off the streets a lot quicker,” Harrison said.
The process cuts down the days it can take for arrest warrants to be processed, picked up or mailed, officials said.
Wake County Clerk of Courts Lorrin Freeman is making sure the transition to the system is smooth at the magistrate’s office. Clerks can use the system to quickly access background information on a suspect.
"It helps us as clerks more efficiently serve the law enforcement community so they can help keep the public safe,” Freeman said.
In recent years, Wake County averaged 50,000 warrants. All warrants will now be issued electronically.
NCAWARE is expected to be used in all counties by 2010. The next counties expected to join the program are Wayne, Martin, Orange, Chatham, Durham and Person.
NCAWARE is a custom-developed, web-based program that was designed, written, tested and implemented by the judicial branch’s N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts. The office also trained law enforcement officers and court personnel to use the system.