Carter, Unicoi counties partner to form regional warrant database

Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford and Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley announced a new partnership Tuesday afternoon, in which they have developed a regional database in order to better track and take care of regional warrants.

Lunceford said he had the idea several years ago, saying he believed serviced warrants directly impacted property crime.

He said many of the warrants they currently have on record are “transient,” meaning they might not even live in Carter County anymore, traveling from place to place. As a result, he said part of this partnership includes the ability to send Carter County officers into Unicoi County in order to serve Carter County warrants and vice versa.

“We want to make it as uncomfortable for the criminal element as possible,” Lunceford said.

He said he has reached out to other neighboring counties to become involved in this regional database as well, including Washington and Johnson. Ultimately, he said he wants this to become a state-wide program.

The announcement comes after a roundup that took place Tuesday morning, a move Hensley said opens many opportunities to begin this new cooperation with Carter County.

“We have opened new investigations that will lead into Carter and Washington counties,” Hensley said.

For citizens, the app will take the form of a smartphone app, a “neighborhood cleanup” app that will allow users to submit anonymous tips about suspicious activity in the area. In addition, users can see every warrant in their general location, along with a picture of the person for whom the warrant was issued.

“Eighty percent of our warrants are misdemeanors,” Lunceford said. “They are not in the national database.”

The app also contains an additional feature, however.

“You can even turn yourself in,” Lunceford said.

He said attempting to use the national database for every warrant an officer inquires about would “overwhelm” the system, so a regional database would allow for better coordination between departments in East Tennessee.

Lunceford said this “regional concept” is important because as the number of active warrants goes down, the remaining warrants become harder to serve.

Both he and Hensley said they hope the database becomes an ongoing effort in the future.

Those interested in obtaining the app can go to sheriff.cc to find instructions on downloading the app, or contact the Sheriff’s Office at 423-542-1845.

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