Warrant Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles for Improving Warrant Management:

Effective warrant management relies on the cooperation of multiple independent units of government that span local, state and federal jurisdictions in both executive and judicial branches of government.  In most instances, no one entity controls all aspects of the process.  Consequently, all key stakeholders must be engaged in the governance of warrant management initiatives.

Automation can greatly improve the accuracy and timeliness of data sharing.  Warrant management processes rely on multiple separate entities that have historically conveyed information via paper documents. Many jurisdictions have developed automated interfaces to share information between “stove-piped” data systems.  Using established standards can make the exchange of data reliable as well as economical.  Automation is not fool-proof, however, and additional quality control steps must be taken to insure the data shared is truly accurate and complete.  Technical capabilities as well as operational practices are required to make automation effective.

A key component of situational awareness is knowing if an individual poses a safety risk because of outstanding warrants, which increases the risk of harm to an officer and to the general public because of the threat of arrest.  Some jurisdictions limit which warrants they enter into regional, state and national wanted persons systems for practical reasons including limited manpower to enter and maintain the records, or because the underlying offense is not severe enough to warrant the expense of transporting the individual back to the issuing jurisdiction. As a result, law enforcement officials are not aware of many outstanding warrants for lessor offenses. Effective governance promotes awareness, including the visibility of warrants to all justice stakeholders, particularly law enforcement.