Surry County law enforcement officers now have a new tool to help them locate wanted persons. The tool is called NCAWARE.
NCAWARE, an acronym for North Carolina Warrant Repository, is a new statewide computer system that contains a list of all outstanding warrants for arrest, orders for arrest, and criminal summons across the state.
Now any time an agency in another county issues a warrant for someone with a Surry County address, the information will immediately be entered into NCAWARE. Before, warrants from other counties were mailed to Surry’s magistrate office then transmitted to law enforcement agencies. The new system does away with the paper-based process, offering real-time information to officers.
“This new system is a major step toward building a criminal justice information network in the state,” Judge John W. Smith, N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts director, said in a press release. “NCAWARE will automate Surry County’s manual processes for orders for arrest, and will better help magistrates and law enforcement officers process unserved warrants.”
The new system also eliminates duplicate data entry. Officers are able to type someone’s name into the computer and see all of the warrants or orders for arrest issued for this person.
Pam Marion, Surry County clerk of superior court, said, “This will allow for greater communication with law enforcement, which in turn will make our office more efficient in serving the residents of Surry County.”
She said county agencies worked all week to convert information from paper-based and other computer-based systems into NCAWARE.
“It will be very beneficial once all that is converted,” said Marion.
Chrisie King, communication supervisor for the Mount Airy Police Department, said, “I personally think it’s going to be a good system once everyone gets familiar with it.”
She said the system is quick and easy to use. King said Mount Airy police officers already have arrested some people thanks to information they found on NCAWARE.
Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson has his concerns about the new way of doing things. He fears NCAWARE will back up county agencies. He said his office has worked hard over the past few years to whittle down the number of outstanding warrants for Surry County residents from around 3,000 down to 324. Now with the new system, his office already has a list of 5,624 warrants from across the state.
“It’s going to be a big issue for us,” Atkinson said.
The sheriff said the problem is the system was mandated by the state, but law enforcement agencies were not given any funds or additional employees to tackle the increased number of outstanding warrants the county has to attempt to serve.
“It’s just a totally different way of doing things ... I think it will be easier for a lot of people, but not for law enforcement,” Atkinson said.
The system went live in Surry County on June 9. The system has not yet been implemented in all North Carolina counties, but all magistrates have access to it. The system will soon be available for all law enforcement agencies across the state. The state court administrative office reported this week that there are nearly two million processes — warrants, orders, and criminal summons — already in the NCAWARE system. The system’s first launch was in Johnston County in June 2008, and all counties are expected to use it by the end of 2010.
The NCAWARE system was built by the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, the administrative arm for the N.C. Judicial Department. The funds for NCAWARE came from the N.C. General Assembly and the N.C. Governor’s Crime Commission. Partnering agencies are the State Bureau of Investigation, local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Correction, the Division of Motor Vehicles, and North Carolina Highway Patrol.
To learn more about NCAWARE, go online to visit www.nccourts.org/NCAWARE.
Contact Meghann Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.