Warrant and Disposition Management Project

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and SEARCH, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, were awarded a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to identify and address issues affecting the reporting of arrest warrants and criminal dispositions from local and state originating agencies to state and national criminal records databases. Activities of the Warrant and Disposition Management (W&D) project include:

Determine current environment 
State Surveys

There were two surveys developed for this project activity.  The first ("Full Survey") was distributed to state criminal records and warrant repositories and asked several questions regarding how effectively warrant and disposition reporting was accomplished in the state.  The second ("General Survey") was an abbreviated version of the Full Survey and was distributed to law enforcement, prosecution, and court agencies in each state to collect their perceptions regarding the arrest, disposition, and warrant information received from the repositories.  Together, these surveys were designed to gather information that could be used to 1) ascertain the perceived scope and nature of problems related to warrant and disposition reporting; 2) identify common issues that could potentially be addressed through some combination of technology, business process improvements, and legislative/policy changes; and 3) identify common factors among states that are effective (or ineffective) in managing warrant and disposition reporting. For details regarding the survey methodology and responses see W&D 2011 State Survey-Final Report.

Focus Groups 

Two focus groups, one to discuss warrant reporting and one to discuss disposition reporting, were held for this project activity.  Each meeting included subject matter experts from a number of states, the FBI NICS Division, the FBI CJIS Division, and BJA.  Meeting participants identified challenges regarding existing warrant and disposition reporting practices as well as theorized possible solutions for those issues ranked as "high impact."  See below for the list of high impact issues.

Focus Group 

High Impact Issue

Possible Solution

Warrant Reporting

Duplicate data entry issues and data entry errors during the warrant creation process as the warrant moves from agency to agency to be requested, approved, issued, and entered

Encourage localities and states to move to an electronic warrant system

 

Staff have to chase paper as the warrant moves through the creation, approval, entry, and service process

Encourage localities and states to move to an electronic warrant system

 

Agencies are not always notified in a timely fashion when a warrant is issued when it is a paper-based system 

Encourage localities and states to move to an electronic warrant system

 

Current status of a warrant can be unknown or "out of sync" during the recall, cancellation, issuance process with many activities taking place at the same time 

Encourage localities and states to move to an electronic warrant system

 

Some localities find it challenging to get warrants into NCIC in a timely fashion (if at all) due to limited resources

Encourage localities and states to move to an electronic warrant system; establish policies and business rules for prioritizing entry of the most significant warrants first

 

The validation rules of NCIC are perceived as cumbersome when resources are limited

Relax validation rules; redesign validation rules to reflect an electronic enviromnent; make warrants available through NLETS

 

Some states have multiple warrant databases which may create officer safety issues

Develop a centralized or federated system where NCIC points back to all state databases

 

Some law enforcement agencies are searching paper warrants 

Encourage localities and states to move to an electronic warrant system

 

Local IT systems are not synchronized or integrated; lack of a standard data dictionary

Encourage localities and states to move to an electronic warrant system

Disposition Reporting

The control number (created by the Livescan machine in most cases) isn't transferred across case management systems (e.g., law enforcement, prosecutors, clerks, court, repository)

Develop policy that clearly defines the unique identifying number that will be used as a "control" number; this number should be maintained in all key systems

 

Fingerprints are not collected when only a summons is issued, and defendants frequently do not appear to be fingerprinted at later points in the process

Place Livescans in courthouses and/or courtrooms; law enforcemnt could use portable fingerprinting devices in the field; order fingerprints at first court appearance

 

Not all localities or states are using a unified statute table, which leads to matching errors at later points in the process

Encourage localities to map to state codes; automate statute mapping; establish a statute or a court rule that determines which agency is responsible for maintaining the official statute table and ensuring updates are sent to all relevant agencies

Conduct pilot projects

The NCSC and SEARCH assisted several states with projects that addressed a warrant or disposition management issue.  The objectives for this project activity were to 1) document current issues with warrant and disposition reporting, 2) develop site-specific information sharing and architecture implementation strategies, and 3) share lessons learned.  Projects ranged from the documenting of business processes involved in disposition reporting to the observation of a Livescan implementation plan to the creation of technical specifications for an eWarrant system.  The table below provides the title of each project.  For complete details see State InitiativesWarrant Activities, or Disposition Activities

State 

Project Title

Alabama

Statewide eWarrant Service

Arizona

Statewide Arrest Warrant Process Project

California

Disposition Reporting Improvement Project

Kentucky

Open Portal System Business Process Review 

Maryland

Disposition Error Reporting System

Missouri

Offense Cycle Number Query Application

Ohio

Live Scan Use in the Courtroom

Pennsylvania

Enhancing the eWarrant System

Wisconsin Prosecutor Technology for Case Tracking

Develop Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles are the overarching concepts or values that drive strategies, goals and tactics. In the case of the Warrants and Disposition Management Project, the principles lead to specific recommendations and practical guidance that focus on improving the functionality of these capabilities and the exchange of relevant warrant and disposition data between all justice partners.  In this toolkit, these principles decompose into specific actions or recommendations that can be implemented to improve business processes that align one or more of these principles.

Both capabilities share the guiding principles of:
  • Establish Effective Governance
  • Improve Automation
The Warrant Management Capability has the added principle of:
  • Increase Situational Awareness to Improve Officer and Public Safety
The Disposition Matching Capability has the added principles of:
  • Rely on Biometric Identification
  • Focus on Data Quality
Create toolkit

One of the primary objectives of the Warrant and Disposition Management (W&D) project was to develop a “Toolkit” to provide information and guidance to practitioners for warrant management and disposition reporting to criminal history repositories.  Because state court systems vary so much and because their information sharing capabilities also vary significantly, it is not possible to develop one standard action plan or implementation strategy for everyone that is meaningful and practical. The Toolkit was designed to include outcomes of the aforementioned pilot projects and practical guidance relating to the warrant and disposition guiding principles of: establishing effective governance, improving automation, increasing situational awareness, relying on biometric identification, and focusing on data quality.

The Toolkit is organized into three primary sections: Warrant Reporting, Disposition Reporting, and State Initiatives.  Within the Warrant Reporting and Disposition Reporting sections there is information on the business processes and business functions related to each type of record as well as descriptions of the criminal justice disciplines that are involved in the reporting of those records.  In addition, users can find examples of practical guidance and links to a myriad of technical resources.  The State Initiatives section describes the pilot projects conducted by the state participants and offers access to the products and lessons learned from their Warrant and Disposition Management projects.  This section also includes case studies and/or relevant information from warrant or disposition reporting improvement projects in other (non-pilot) states. 

To introduce the Toolkit, NCSC, SEARCH, and state practitioners held webinars on Criminal Disposition Reporting and Warrant Management in April 2016.

Webinar recordings