Court services administrator describes benefits of NLETS interface
It’s another Monday morning in the municipal court of Suwanee, Georgia. As Court Services Administrator Mariza Abdeljawad walks into her office, she can’t help thinking about how the work of her clerks has been transformed.
Six months ago, Suwanee implemented Syscon’s NLETS (National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System) interface. Although the deputy clerks reporting to Abdeljawad have long consulted the NLETS network to search for driver and criminal histories recorded by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and other law enforcement entities, Abdeljawad says the Syscon interface has provided “unbelievable” benefits.
Suwanee court clerks now have streamlined NLETS access that is also more secure. Clerks also have the assurance that their public is better served, since the interface lowers chances of human error that could lead to erroneous or incomplete reports. The new interface automatically retrieves and stores NLETS criminal and drivers histories for all defendants appearing on the docket with the click of a few buttons.
“This is a tool every court clerk would love to have,” Abdeljawad says. “It saves a lot of time and eliminates much of the human error than can occur when someone transposes the letters of a name or a drivers’ license number. It’s also a very secure system, because everyone who has access is tracked. We can therefore see who is looking at these records. The GBI likes it, because it eliminates the security risks of printed records.”
A year ago, the deputy clerks reporting to work on Monday morning – or any morning — faced a much more time-intensive workload. Before they had access to the Syscon NLETS interface, each clerk processed all traffic citations by manually entering driver’s licenses numbers, retrieving Motor Vehicle Reports, saving reports in PDF formats, and attaching those PDFs to the matching citations. Criminal histories were accessed by entering the defendant’s name. Then the clerk processed those resulting codes and copied and pasted what they received into another search, creating second PDFs to attach to those records.
As each traffic citation was processed, clerks tried to guard against errors. They didn’t want to attach the wrong records or miss a criminal history, placing individuals or the public at risk. After processing, they also endeavored to double-check each ticket for any erroneous key strokes or missing information. But there was still the possibility that a clerk could miss adding the PDF driving record documents to the case. The PDF attachment system made it difficult to make all records easily accessible to prosecutors and judges.
“But this NLETS interface simply allows us to click the History button and scroll to the appropriate record,” says Abdeljawad. “It completely eliminates three steps in the process.”
On a busy week, those three steps can represent a full day’s work – up to eight hours — that clerks now devote to other important tasks. However, this administrator says accuracy and efficiency are not the only reasons she urges other courts to consider incorporating Syscon’s NLETS interface.
“NLETS is also a valuable tool when going over the docket before court to ensure all histories and reports are attached to each citation,” Abdeljawad says. “Instead of manually entering each defendant’s information, we just have to verify that the information is correct. Then we can move on to the next case. Since everything is in a Word document rather than a PDF, we can insert notes and highlight information for the prosecutor’s attention.
“The NLETS interface improves accuracy initially, and it allows us to have the correct record available when the defendant comes to court.”
Security, accuracy, efficiency. In Abdeljawad’s view, those words summarize the results of her clerks’ work with Syscon’s NLETS interface, making it what she calls an “unbelievable” tool for any court.