Ohio: State databases lacked thousands of county criminal records

Ohio Criminals ImageIt was recently discovered that, for months, several counties in Ohio were having computer issues that prevented counties from providing arrest and criminal disposition records to a statewide database that law-enforcement officers use when making traffic stops. This miscommunication caused a lack of complete records for state and city police, and had the errors not been found, could have resulted in dangerous environments for police as well as the public. In Ohio, police officers report arrests to the county, and after an individual has been through the court system, the county keeps records of criminal dispositions (how the case was handled). Each county is then supposed to send both kinds of records — and those from municipal and common courts — to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation each week for inclusion in the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway (OHLEG) database, which can be accessed by police officers all over the state. Then, when police pull over an individual on a traffic stop, ideally the officer would be able to access not only that person’s arrest record and court records, but also previous background check results. This helps the officer know to take caution if the person stopped has a warrant out for their arrest, if he or she has previously been convicted of a violent crime, or has previous drug arrests. However, at least three counties in Ohio had trouble getting these records into the state database for extended periods of time. Hamilton County — where Cincinnati is located — had more than 12,000 disposition records go unreported over a seven-month span, though arrest records were always made available in OHLEG, and a second, county database had the disposition records available. Franklin County’s arrest and disposition records were not provided for 11 months, and Clark County was missing records for 15 months before the problem was given attention. All three of these counties have since gotten their backlog of records into OHLEG, and the Ohio Attorney General is working with the counties to ensure that any computer problems are resolved so another situation like this does not occur in the future.]]>

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