06/19/06 — Local law enforcement agencies sharing information

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Local law enforcement agencies sharing information

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on June 19, 2006 1:48 PM

Wayne County law enforcement agencies began sharing information this week in a new way that will help them better track criminals and crimes.

The Sheriff's Office, Goldsboro Police Department, Mount Olive Police Department, Pikeville Police Department, Fremont Police Department, Walnut Creek Police Department, Wayne Memorial Hospital security officers, Cherry Hospital security officers and Seymour Johnson security forces met to create a system that expands the current criminal database and records system.

The county is the first in the state to take such a step, Sheriff Carey Winders said.

An officer from any of the departments can now run a criminal query through the records management system and obtain results from all of the participating agencies. The police agencies can share photographs, criminal and civil reports, warrants, wanted persons, vehicle information, suspect information, sex offender information and many other details, Winders said.

For example, Wayne McLaughlin of the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations said hundreds of people try to gain access to Seymour Johnson every day. By using the new system, airmen and security forces can prevent certain people from entering the base.

"At the base, things happen so quickly. If we find out a person has a history of violence or is mentally unstable, we can respond quickly," McLaughlin said.

Most people in the community, at least once, will be admitted to Wayne Memorial Hospital, Wayne Memorial Police Chief Michael Wightman said.

"Well, eventually, everyone goes through. This is a way that we can check to see if a patient has a warrant," Wightman said.

When a child goes missing, the nearest police force could type in the address the child was last seen at and be given the address of a sex offender that lives in the neighborhood.

"If that child is near a known sex offender, that helps us because that would be the first place we check," Winders said.

The database system was originally purchased by the Sheriff's Office from Sungard Ossi in 1996. A decade later, many more agencies and officers now have access to each other's criminal and civil information.

The move to a county-wide system makes Wayne County the first in North Carolina to link all of its municipalities' law enforcement agencies together in a common network, Winders said.

Police chiefs and other high-ranking police officers throughout the county met Thursday to become more familiar with the system during a three-hour training session.

Winders said he hopes this is the first phase of an expanding project. Although the system can only be used by police officers at office desk computers, he said it is a goal to expand the program to squad car computers.