Situational Awareness

The first business driver behind the goal to improve warrant management is returning a fugitive to the justice process by successfully executing a court order. Another important but less obvious purpose is to increase officer and public safety by increasing awareness of dangerous situations. An individual with an outstanding warrant may act in a threatening or dangerous manner when he or she encounters a law enforcement officer, whether or not the officer is actually aware of the warrant.

Law enforcement business practices sometimes discourage making all warrants visible to law enforcement because of additional reporting and validation requirements, transportation costs, etc. However, increasing an officer’s situational awareness in an encounter with an individual who has an outstanding warrant provides critical and potentially life-saving information that the officer can use to manage the interaction. An officer running a vehicle license check linked to the wants and warrants check for the registered owner will have advance notice of a potential risky encounter prior to contacting the individual*.  There is no guarantee that the driver is the registered vehicle owner, but this is frequently is the case, and this information can impact public safety as well as officer safety since many encounters occur in a public setting. For officers to be fully informed, all warrants must be available during these types of encounters. 

Situational awareness can extend beyond a law enforcement encounter as well. Automated notifications can be used to alert other key justice partners including probation officers, investigators, supervision officials, victims, and others when a warrant is served. Additional opportunities arise with the growing popularity and utility of social media.

The imperative of maximizing officer safety offsets added costs and other barriers to making warrants visible.  Automation is the key to achieving this outcome. This toolkit provides numerous resources to aid in effectively automating the warrant management process, including models and case studies.

* Some encounters may begin before an individual’s identity is verified.