New database will connect criminal records

June 20, 2008 10:44:54 AM PDT
North Carolina's court system is rolling out a new computer system to help police recognize suspects who have dodged the law.

Two years ago when 6-time drunk driver Timothy Anderson was arrested in a DWI crash that permanently disabled a woman in Franklin County, he bailed out of jail.

Just 10 days later, he was arrested in Wayne County, again for DWI. And again Anderson bailed out of jail. That time for only $6,000.

Because local deputies and jail magistrates had no idea of his 16-year drunk driving record.

"We're having people killed every day on our roads," Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said. "We're having drunk drivers. The increase just continues."

The basic problem has been that North Carolina counties do not share the vast majority of their court and arrest warrant information.

"All court processes exist only on paper," Greg Stahl, Administrative Office of Courts, said. "So, if you're from one county, and you have outstanding paper on you, and you're from one county, here in Wake County or Johnston County, it's likely we're not going to know that paper exists."

Only the most serious arrest warrants, for crimes like murder and rape, are entered into a national computer system.

But a suspect of armed robbery wanted in one county could be pulled over by police in another county, and the officer may not know he was looking at a wanted man.

"If it was not entered in that national data base, we the officer on the street, will not know that you are wanted," Sheriff Bizzell said.

N.C. Aware hopes to bring all of the state's arrest warrants into one database, which all police can access through their vehicle computers.

The system is now in Johnston County.

"With N.C. Aware now, it's live, it's online, it's up to date," Bizzell said.

And now if a serial drunk driver or wanted suspect is pulled over in Johnston County. Police now think they will really know who they are dealing with.


Load Comments