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Applying Data Science To Justice Systems: The North Carolina Statewide Warrant Repository(NCAWARE)

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $550,740)

RTI International, in partnership with Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), and in cooperation with the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (NC AOC), proposes to develop a structured decision-making tool for prioritizing the execution of warrants based on risk to public safety. Known as the WARRANT, (WARrant Risk AssessmeNT), the proposed tool will be evaluated in two partnering agencies: the Anne Arundel Sheriff’s Department in Annapolis, MD, and the Durham Police Department in Durham, NC. We will use a detailed assessment of process and outcome indicators to measure not only the effects and benefits of implementation but also the implications for use by other agencies across the nation.

Warrants and the processes used to track and execute warrants remain unorganized in many U.S. jurisdictions. Reports of sizable warrant backlogs and cases involving serious crimes committed by offenders with outstanding warrants indicate the need for a more structured process for serving warrants. Currently, however, there is no systematic approach for law enforcement to prioritize the execution of warrants, let alone any data-driven method tied to public safety risks. The proposed project has five phases: (1) perform background research on warrants and warrant processes with a panel of experts representing a broad range of experiences and roles in the field; (2) apply advanced data science techniques to develop a prioritized strategy for addressing risk; (3) create a data dashboard that allows local users to dynamically produce prioritized lists of warrants on demand that include spatial and temporal factors; (4)implement the prioritized WARRANT tool in two jurisdictions; and (5) conduct a process and outcome evaluation that offers insights into the lessons learned and the overall generalizability and scalability of the WARRANT instrument.

The project’s results, methods, and recommendations will be disseminated broadly in the practitioner and researcher community with the goal of creating more data-driven decision making and increased efficiencies in the warrant execution process. The creation of a research-based process for prioritizing warrant service according to risk of criminal offending could lead to substantial improvement in community safety and help conserve the use of limited resources by executing warrants according to a pre-determined order and establishing alternative strategies for lower-risk individuals. Systematic risk assessments could lead to a higher percentage of cleared, high-risk warrants and help avoid system bottlenecks, which are sometimes associated with executing large numbers of warrants simultaneously. Assessing warrants more efficiently could also help reduce warrant backlogs.

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 16, 2015