Since the beginning of September, Wendell police officers have been able to spend more time in town after implementing a new program that allows officers to communicate with magistrates in Raleigh by video.
Wendell is one of several agencies of varying size across the county who are among the first to use the program in the area, police Chief Bill Carter said.
The program began in other parts in the state in 2012.
In the past, Wendell officers had to drive to Raleigh to testify in front of a magistrate to obtain an arrest warrant. In the time it takes an officer to get back to Wendell from Raleigh, a suspect may be able to leave the town, Carter said.
Now, with a new system put into place by the Wake County Magistrate’s Office, Wendell can complete the process by video at the local department building.
If an arrest is made at the scene of a crime, officers will still have to travel to Raleigh to complete the appropriate paperwork.
The program speeds along the process of obtaining a warrant, but it also helps with the execution of warrants since it puts them in the online NCAWARE program more quickly.
NCAWARE allows other municipalities to access warrants that need to be served on a suspect who may have left the area or committed a crime in a different area than where he or she lives.
Carter told Wendell commissioners last week that the program has been extremely cost-effective: It cuts down on travel time for officers, keeps more patrol officers in town and has cost less than $100 to date.
“All it requires is a computer with a decent Internet connection, camera and microphone and the software,” Carter said.
Carter said it would cost about $15 a month to pay for a supported version of the software, should the town want the upgrade.
In the future, Carter said he thinks the program will be available on officers’ laptops.
“I envision in the not-so-distant future officers sitting in their car and doing this in their cars,” he said.