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Cops looking to share info
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The law enforcement agencies of Effingham County are on the verge of improving the way they work together to fight crime.

Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Richard Bush explained that the sheriff’s office is looking into how the county and municipalities can use the same database to enter incident reports.

“It would save a lot of time in having to call Rincon or Guyton or anyone else,” he said.

All the chiefs and the sheriff support the measure.

According to Bush, Rincon, Guyton, Springfield and the county all use the Management Data Systems (MDS), Inc. software to enter their respective police reports. So it makes perfect sense that they should use one database.

Doing so would allow each municipality to review the incidents of other cities and the sheriff’s office.

“It sounds like it’d be a good thing,” said Bush.

Indeed, the shared database has many benefits to local authorities and residents.

Currently, the municipal police officers respond to the scene of a crime, complete their incident reports and take the suspect to the Effingham County Jail where they are booked and taken into custody.

Bush explained that the jail officers who conduct the booking get more information about the inmate than the initial officer acquires. This information includes things like how much money the suspect entered jail with, a picture of him and later on, whether he was released on bond.

With the shared software, the responding officer could log into the system and find out all of this information without having to make a phone call or a trip to Springfield.

In addition, Bush noted that if someone came into the sheriff’s office to report a theft, for example, deputies could log into the system and see if the same suspect had committed crimes in Rincon or Guyton or Springfield. Deputies could then gather info from the police officers and together they could make an arrest.

“It would allow us to share data from one office to another,” said Rincon Police Chief David Schofield. Bush spoke to him about the idea about three or four months ago.

He added the shared system would also allow departments to see the crimes taking place in other municipalities.

Those in need of an incident report of a crime that took place in the county could go to the nearest police department instead of having to travel to Springfield.

Furthermore, crime happens all over the county.

“We usually deal with the same people,” Springfield Police Chief Paul Wynn said. Schofield added that crime has no city limits.

Asked if he supports the idea, Schofield responded enthusiastically, “Oh, yes, 100 percent. I think it’d be a great idea.”

“The database would be beneficial to everybody,” Wynn said.

Guyton Police Chief Randy Alexander told his town’s city council about the plan at last week’s council meeting. He expressed to them his support of it.

The Statesboro-based software company has already informed Bush that putting everyone on the same system is doable. The next step is a collaborative meeting between all of the department heads in the county to determine exactly what their needs are before giving MDS the go-ahead.

Bush said he didn’t know how soon it could be put in place or what it would cost.

“We’re hoping it won’t cost much to do,” he said.