During 2012, the Cobb County Sheriff's Office focused its efforts on streamlining operations and completing several on-going projects. Despite a significant level of employee turnover, our staff worked hard to reduce costs and maintain a consistently high level of service.
The planning and implementation of a new Jail Information Management System was completed this year. The system manages data related to every aspect of housing the county’s inmate population as well as maintaining required records for the more than 38,000 inmates booked into the jail every year. The new application replaced a system that is more than 20 years old and provides a significantly greater capability to automate record keeping and improve efficiency.
As part of the 2005 SPLOST funded jail expansion, the Sheriff's Office added an inmate video visitation system. This system allows family members to visit with inmates by video conference from a Visitor Center at the front of the complex rather than physically coming into the jail. This makes visits easier and more pleasant for families, reduces contraband from being introduced into the jail and eliminates the need to add space to accommodate visits within the facility.
In 2012, this system was expanded to the Courthouse Complex in order to allow attorneys to conduct video visits with jail clients. This technology allows attorneys to make use of time that would otherwise be wasted waiting on court appearances and has the effect of moving cases more quickly through the criminal justice system.
The Sheriff's Office has continued to work closely with the courts and Property Management on the design and construction of the new Juvenile Court facility. The relocation of Juvenile Court to the downtown Justice Complex will bring all of the courts into one area and result in significant efficiencies from both an operational and security perspective.
The Clerk of Superior Court Office completed several milestones in 2012, including completing the upgrade of the real estate computer system, recycling 20 tons of paper in closed cases and freeing that storage space by saving the material electronically, distributing court calendars electronically to pertinent parties and conducting employee cross training to enhance customer service. Meanwhile, Project “Lost Victims” paid out $975,000 in restitution. Overall, the Clerk’s Office is a leader in records management with images and accessibility via its Web site and is recognized nationwide for the innovative leadership and customer access.
Magistrate Court is consistently searching for ways to implement new technology and improve the quality of service to our citizens and fellow agencies. In January, the Warrant Division’s Electronic Warrant Interface System was modified to coordinate with the county’s Record Management System and assist law enforcement agencies by allowing them to import information from their incident reports. Creating the ability to interface this information minimizes the risk of errors and allows officers to secure warrants faster; facilitating a quicker return to the road. With the introduction of the RMS system to Magistrate Court, the Criminal Division has access to county citation and ordinance violation information several days earlier, granting quicker access to key information.
Magistrate Court currently maintains OnBase document imaging software and, during the spring, access was granted to allow interested departments to retrieve and reference public documents. This cooperative process saves all parties involved time and enhances interdepartmental resources.
The Civil Division is currently utilizing a QR barcode and scanning solution, reducing manual data entry of nearly 35 percent of 20,000 dispossessory cases. Plans are in place to grow that percentage in 2013.
Probate Court continues to increase online availability of records. We have implemented a new procedure that requires documents to be scanned immediately upon filing. We continue to work to make all historical records available at http://documents.cobbcounty.org/probatecourtinquiry/. Also, we have added several Cobb County Probate Court supplemental forms to our Web site for customer convenience.
In January, Probate Court implemented the new Weapons Carry Permit application process that provides permit holders with heightened security and protections.
Probate Court will begin accepting credit card payments in 2013. In addition, we will begin accepting online requests and payments for certified copies of marriage license applications and marriage certificates.
The State Court Clerk, with the assistance of the Information Services Department and in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services, implemented an electronic submission process to suspend driver licenses of those who have failed to appear in court. This project has improved the accuracy and efficiency of records and results in savings for the county through reduced postage, printing and envelope costs as well as employee labor.
In January, the Cobb County Solicitor’s Office moved the Domestic Violence Diversion Program from Cobb County Magistrate Court to Cobb County State Court in order to handle those cases in a more efficient manner. In partnership with the five State Court Division II Judges, the Solicitor’s Office also began handling jury trials in traffic court to expedite dispositions on pending criminal cases. Also, the Solicitor’s Office added the prosecution of cases under a newly enacted law for motorists who pass a school bus discharging students. The Solicitor’s Office is also working to expand the Electronic Subpoena Program in order to ensure timely and efficient witness notification for court appearances.