Ryan Reed and Beverly Gregory with the Administrative Office of the Courts were at the Lincoln County Courthouse Thursday training clerks on the new eCitation system. Jenny Walling / LTN Photo
Clerks at the Lincoln County Courthouse were trained last week on a new program that will save time and cut down on paperwork.
The eCitation application automates the production of criminal and traffic citations by law enforcement and transmits the information electronically to the courthouse from the officerâ€™s patrol car.
It eliminates the need for paper citations and greatly cuts down on the sometimes-redundant data entry of the manual process.
Currently officers bring citations in to the courthouse and a clerk has to physically put the information into the system, said Clerk of Court Fred Hatley.
That process can be tedious and tie up clerks who could be working on other projects, he said.
â€œThey have to sit down and manually put that thing in,â€ Hatley said. â€œThis will save all that time â€¦â€
The eCitation program will eliminate the delay â€” sometimes of several days â€” between citation creation and entry into the courtâ€™s automated system, according to information provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
While clerks recently were trained on how to use the program, implementation wonâ€™t be for another six to eight months since not all officers have the equipment, Hatley said.
Sheriff Barbara Pickens said that since just two of her deputies are dedicated full-time to traffic enforcement â€” others answer calls for service â€” she wonâ€™t be rushing into the project. But Pickens said that the program will eventually be a positive step for the county by reducing workload on court clerks.
â€œAnything that can be done to streamline our court system and keep it from bogging down is a good thing,â€ Pickens said. â€œBy reducing the amount of paper on cases it will eventually have an impact on our environment.â€
The Sheriffâ€™s Office recently received a $100,000 grant to purchase Mobile Data Terminals for patrol cars. That, Pickens said, will cut down on radio traffic and help move the Sheriffâ€™s Office into the 21st century.
Just four counties in North Carolina currently use the eCitation system, and three others are trying it out on an experimental basis, Hatley said.
Lincoln County was chosen so early in the game because of the high volume of work that takes places at the courthouse, Hatley said.
Eventually the whole state will implement the program, which court officials say is the first step to a â€œpaperlessâ€ courtroom.
The project was initiated in Cumberland County in October 1998 by the state to determine its feasibility.
In September 2000, the pilot projectâ€™s findings were presented and a one-year extension was given to correct certain problems. By September 2001, the system had achieved a zero percent error rate in data transmission.
Hatley said the clerks in his office are eager to start using the new system.â€œTheyâ€™re tickled to death with it, because they know itâ€™s going to eliminate all the repetitive work they do,â€ Hatley said. â€œIt will free them up to do other things.â€ by Alice Smith