COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A multimillion-dollar electronic warrant system launched in Ohio Wednesday, with the goal of beefing up background check databases. 

During a press conference, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted unveiled the brand new eWarrants system, which they said will help Ohio more efficiently report arrest warrants and protection orders to federal and state databases — a process they said is often too slow or not done at all.

“The more we get communities, counties, local officials to adopt it, the more information that will be there the richer it becomes and the more useful tool it becomes of law enforcement,” Husted said.  

The state is invested $4.7 million into the system so counties can electronically file warrants to federal and state databases, which are used to complete background checks.

Those databases are used both by law enforcement to identify a potentially dangerous person and by firearm dealers when selling an individual a gun, and establishing the eWarrants program could help Ohio combat violent crime, DeWine said.

“If you go across this country that there are many, many other families that are mourning their loved ones because they were killed by violent repeat offenders,” he said.

Currently, only two of Ohio’s 88 counties, Meigs and Champaign, are using the new eWarrants system.

Linda Warner, the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas judge Linda Warner said eWarrants is efficient, allowing the court system to upload data to the system five times faster than they did before, says it is efficient.  

“It takes off a great burden for our law enforcement in carrying papers back and forth — Sheriff Wood will explain to you he has such a limited staff, and so it was a huge deal to track down paperwork,” Warner said.  

The governor was also asked about expanding background checks for all gun sales along with this new system.

“I think you’d better talk to the legislature on that,” DeWine said. “I don’t think there are votes in the legislature to do that.”

“What we have tried to focus on is what we can control, and what we control is making sure the information going in is accurate and good information,” he said. “That’s what we can do.” 

DeWine asked the rest of Ohio’s 88 counties all to implement eWarrants into their current systems, which the state will fund.

He added that he hopes the state legislature will pass a law making it a requirement that tier 1 offender warrants — those charged with the most violent of crimes — are required to be filed into databases.

“If someone is charged with rape, if someone is charged with aggravated robbery and on and on and on. The list is about that long but it’s not everything that should have to be entered whether it occurs in north, south, east or west,” DeWine said. “And the only way we can change that, to require it to be entered, is for the legislature to pass the law and for me to sign it.”

Counties have made great progress in voluntarily putting those warrants into databases, DeWine said. In March of 2019, only 18,117 warrants were filed in the national database. As of June 2022, it was 220,206.