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No place to hide… New system helps track criminals

By Staff
TRACKING CRIMINALS Warrant Officer John Calhoun with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department can more easily track criminals with a computer system recently expanded to include actions from Lauderdale County Circuit Court. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
April 5, 2001
An expanded Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department computer system is breathing new life into the old adage "You can run, but you can't hide."
Before the PTS computer software system was installed, deputies such as Warrant Officer John Calhoun had more difficulty serving arrest warrants from various courts due to a lack of information.
With the new system, said Maj. Ward Calhoun, tracking criminals is made easier with better accuracy and efficiency.
Kim Reece, a sheriff's department administrative assistant, said the system will be invaluable in catching deadbeat dads or moms who have contempt warrants. In the past, child support contempt warrants were usually not discovered during routine traffic stops or when arrests for other offenses were made. Officers could ask for a records check, but those checks have large loopholes, Reece said.
For example, if an offender has an out of state driver's license, local contempts of court likely will not show, she said.
The beauty of the system, which was expanded from the Lauderdale County Detention Facility to the Lauderdale County Circuit and Chancery courts last month, is that deputies can track PTS information through lap top computers in their patrol cars.
That means deputies can access photographs, vital statistics and other information within seconds, rather than waiting for record's checks that might not be accurate, Ward Calhoun said.
Additionally, PTS prevents duplication so arrests aren't made twice, prevents the wrong person from being arrested, keeps criminals from giving false addresses and names and pumps money back into the county since the majority of arrest warrants are for bad checks, Reece said.
Officials said they have noticed an increase in arrests since the system was expanded last month. A woman who recently came into the department for an accident report was discovered to have bad check warrants dating back four years, Reece said.
The $150,000 system, paid for by federal grants, also makes officers' lives safer. Calhoun said a skull and cross bones appear on the screen for any offender who is considered dangerous.
Calhoun said department officials hope to next expand their new technology to the Lauderdale County Justice Court.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.