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Ohio Task Force Wants Law Enforcement To File All Warrants In State Database

A task force convened by Gov. Mike DeWine discusses improving the state's warrant database on January 21, 2020.
A task force convened by Gov. Mike DeWine discusses improving the state's warrant database on January 21, 2020.

The Ohio Governor’s Warrant Task Force met Tuesday morning to discuss recommendations for improving public safety.

Gov. Mike DeWine convened the task force in 2019. The group met several times and issued a report in May with 15 recommendations.

Those recommendations include creating a database of open felony warrants in the state, setting up quarterly task force meetings and redesigning Ohio’s Uniform Traffic Ticket.

Andy Wilson, Ohio's senior advisor for criminal justice policy, says many Ohioans may mistakenly believe that every person with an open felony warrant is being actively pursued by law enforcement.

“And what we found last year when we did the research is that’s not necessarily true,” Wilson says. “And not only is that not necessarily true, some of these warrants aren’t even entered into the system.”

Last spring, statisticians predicted that there were at least 500,000 outstanding warrants in the state.

“At that time, we had about 217,000 warrants that were in the state database, and out of that 217,000, only 18,000 had been entered into the national warrant database,” Wilson says.

The task force has been sending representatives to talk to different law enforcement agencies about whether they would be interested in participating in a database pilot. They say all the agencies recognize the importance of keeping track of and creating access to warrants.

Companies hoping to submit bids to create the warrant database system must apply by Wednesday. DeWine has said in that past that he wants the system to be “free to local governments, easy to use, and mandatory.”

The task force hopes to launch the database with at least 10 municipalities. DeWine hopes to make it mandatory for law enforcement agencies to enter warrant information into the National Crime Information Center's database.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.