District court judges can approve warrants electronically

August 22, 2013

Officials are continuing to find new ways to reduce paper from their daily workflow. In Jackson, Michigan, district court judges may now approve search warrants through their mobile devices, streamlining operations for the local police force.

Before electronic search warrants were implemented in July, officers who worked the late night or early morning shifts would fax warrants and affidavits to a judge’s home, then wait for him or her to sign and fax the document back, according to the Jackson Citizen Patriot. This system proved inefficient because law enforcement officials were unable to patrol other parts of Jackson County because they were waiting for a fax.

“In theory, they should be able to get the warrant within minutes of its presentation,” Chief District Judge R. Darryl Mazur told the source.

With any new system in place, it takes time to work out the kinks. For example, even though all four judges can sign off on electronic search warrants from their iPads, the police are still required to have a physical copy of the paperwork to present it to the suspect, renter or owner of a residence. Enforcement agents know that emailing this file to the individual could turn out to be ineffective.

Nonetheless, the task force will continue to explore options to change their database management services. Starting with an electronic citation system, officers are hoping they will eventually no longer have to submit a paper version of their tickets. Instead, electronically processing these forms will expedite payment and court processing during appeals.

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