CCSO launches new smartphone app to help catch wanted offenders

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Carter County Sheriff’s Office is launching a new smartphone app that allows citizens to help locate and turn in suspects wanted on arrest warrants.

The new, custom designed CCSO Neighborhood Cleanup app provides a map of the last known addresses of all suspects with active warrants, along with their pictures and a list of their suspected crimes. Users can access a map that shows the last known addresses, which will let them check their own neighborhoods for suspects. If anyone has information on a suspect, they can send a tip through the app to the Sheriff’s office, and officers will use that information to help make arrests. The app also allows suspects to turn themselves into the Sheriff’s office.

“This is a critical tool that will help us bring more criminals to justice,” Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said. “We are always seeking new ways to ensure the safety of our citizens, and I believe this app will help us do just that.”

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The department’s IT team developed this app in-house as part of Operation Clean Up Your Neighborhood. Across the state of Tennessee, law enforcement agencies face a heavy workload, with more than 304,000 unserved warrants still outstanding.

Three years ago, Lunceford said the Carter County Sheriff’s Office created a specialized team of 10 deputies whose primary focus is to hunt down fugitives with outstanding warrants. This team, called the Power Shift, has been responsible for making thousands of arrests.

Along with the Power Shift, the Sheriff’s Office also developed an automated system called Arrest Watch, which notifies officers when an individual with an outstanding an Carter County warrant is booked into jail anywhere in the country, Lunceford said. This system has resulted in an additional 800 fugitives being detained, arrested and transported back to Carter County for trial. It is the first program of its kind in the country, according to Lunceford.

Since the Power Shift and Arrest Watch system were brought online, Lunceford said Carter County has cut the number of outstanding warrants down from approximately 4,000 three years ago to 1,500 warrants today. Over those three years, the department has served nearly 8,000 warrants.

The warrant enforcement has led to a reduction in reported crimes, according to Lunceford. Since 2014, Carter County has seen a 23 percent reduction in overall reported crimes, with theft falling by 20 percent and burglary by 48 percent.

The challenges to serving remaining warrants are the same as they have always been. Officers need to know where suspects are, what they look like and how to get information to make the arrests. The Neighborhood Cleanup app allows the people of Carter County to get suspects out of their neighborhoods by showing them who the suspects are and giving them a direct tip line to the Sheriff’s office.

“If you have a warrant out, you need to go ahead and turn yourself in,” Lunceford said. “Everyone in your neighborhood is going to know what you look like and what you’re accused of, and if you don’t turn yourself in, they will.”

The new app is available on Android and on the Sheriff’s Office website, and is in the process of being made ready for iPhones.