Watauga County gets 'aware'
NC Aware, a statewide automated warrant tracking system, hits Watauga County July 14 and aims to make it easier for uniforms to serve out-of-county warrants.
"If you run across somebody from another jurisdiction that has warrants on them, they can be accessed through NC Aware and they can be arrested or served on that process," Captain Jeff Virginia said.
He, along with captains DeeDee Rominger, Kelly Redmond and Sheriff Len Hagaman, trained Thursday in Marion on the new system. Next week, the training hits home, as the captains and the sheriff share what they've learned with deputies.
Watauga County is utilizing five in-car computers, allowing officers on the road to easily pull up warrant information at traffic stops. It's similar to the status quo, but has a time saving kick.
"You're already checked in the state system when you run your driver's license... the difference is, when you were checked before, when it said there's a warrant in Ashe County, you had to get your hands on the warrant... now you can arrest that person and it can be processed in the magistrate's office... you don't have to wait for the process to get to you," he said.
With just a few touches of a keypad, deputies will have warrants directly available.
"It's just basically a search system. You enter the proper criteria and search the system and it will tell you yes or no if there's a criminal process," Virginia said.
While not having to make phone calls and faxes to get warrants will save time, it's not the only benefit of the program, Virginia said.
"There's no storage of paper processes. All processes will be electronic now," he said.
Over half of the state's 100 counties utilize NC Aware, and other Watauga entities, Boone Police Department, Blowing Rock Police Department and Appalachian State University Police, also plan to get online this month.