INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Mitch Daniels and Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard announced today that the state has received a $259,000 grant from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics to create a statewide Protection Order Registry.
“Until now, a judge’s protection order might not get into the hands of local law enforcement for days – a situation that is unacceptable and too dangerous to continue. By creating this link between the courts and law enforcement we can better protect those we are here to serve,” said Chief Justice Shepard.
The project funding was awarded through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and was also supported by domestic violence advocacy groups and local and state law enforcement.
“Last year more than 83 Hoosiers died as the result of domestic violence. More than 9,000 adults, mostly women, and children went to an emergency shelter because it wasn’t safe to stay at home. We need to take action to change that,” said Governor Daniels.
Currently, if you want to know how many Protection Orders are in force in Indiana, you have to contact all 92 counties individually.
The new Indiana Protection Order registry will link Indiana courts with the existing Indiana State Police data system to ensure all protection orders are entered and available immediately. This also means data will be available across county lines.
“Law enforcement officers can be most efficient and effective when they have complete, and timely, information. This registry will add an important tool to assist them in their efforts to protect those at-risk for domestic violence,” said Indiana State Police Superintendent Dr. Paul E. Whitesell.
When the order goes into the system, a copy will be faxed to local law enforcement officers where the parties are located. This will ensure that all law enforcement agencies are immediately notified when a protection order or no contact order is issued or revoked.
An additional benefit is that because the order is checked for completeness and accuracy when it goes into the new system, it will also be registered with NCIC – the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, offering protection across state lines as well as within Indiana.
“As a former law enforcement officer, I know the crucial time following the entering of a Protection Order, typically on a Friday afternoon, is the first 24 hours. With this new system, the order will be entered in to the registry before the petitioner leaves the courthouse,” said Michael Cunegin, Executive Director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
This collaborative effort between the judiciary and state government is the latest in a number of projects that are benefiting Hoosiers.
The Indiana Supreme Court’s Jury Pool Project created the most diverse and inclusive jury pool list in Indiana history, increasing the percentage of eligible people called from 60-80% to more than 99%. The court worked with the state Department of Revenue, Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Purdue University on that project.
The court’s BMV project is another example of collaboration between the executive branch and judiciary. The Indiana Supreme Court’s Judicial Technology and Automation Committee created a system which allows clerk’s offices to transfer driving infractions to the BMV electronically. This time and money saving system is helping the state meet new federal rules for timely reporting and protecting $34 million a year in federal highway funds.