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Local

Lee County Sheriff's Department asks for tech upgrade

Tablets would lead way to e-citations

DIXON – The Lee County Sheriff’s Department is looking to buy new tablets for its squad cars that would pave the way for electronic citations.

The state has instituted deadlines for filing court documents electronically, and that’s likely going to extend to citations down the road, Circuit Clerk Denise McCaffrey-Ehrmann said.

“There’s not a specific date for e-citations, but it’s only a matter of time,” she said.

All court records need to be filed electronically by Jan. 1, and the county got a jump start on that mandate a year ago when it launched its Full Court Enterprise system, a $500,000 project that replaced the system it had been using since 1989.

It also replaced the county’s online public access portal from judici.com to FCE.

The County Board plans to discuss purchasing 18 tablets and new software for the sheriff’s department Tuesday.

The county would pay $114,000 of the $178,000 project cost, the Circuit Clerk’s office would kick in $40,000, and the sheriff’s department would cover the remaining $24,000.

Sheriff John Simonton said the tablets also would replace the need for computers in the patrol room. The tablets also would be designed to stand up to the wear and tear of the more rugged conditions that can be encountered while on patrol.

The county processes about 6,000 tickets a year.

“It’s eventually got to be done,” board member Tom Kitson said.

The state Conference for Chief Circuit Judges signed off on counties implementing an electronic citation program in 2013, given they follow a set of guidelines and receive approval from the conference.

NEXT MEETING

The Lee County Board next meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the third-floor board room of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St.

The agenda will be posted at leecountyil.com 2 days before the meeting.

HOW DO E-CITATIONS WORK?

While systems differ, and precise steps can vary, a typical e-citation setup works by eliminating the traditional ticket book-and-pen method of writing traffic tickets. Instead officers use a handheld device such as a tablet. They can scan the barcode on a persons driver’s license which then populates the fields on an e-citation form. Systems can also use GPS coordinates to record the location of the stop. The officer chooses from a drop-down list of traffic violations and corresponding codes, and then prints a citation for the driver. The information is transmitted to a state database and/or local courthouse.

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