Freeman has been working with others in the department since the beginning of the year to create digital versions of shelf after shelf of case files.
Sheriff Steve Wilson said he purchased a system made up of a networked copy machine and accompanying software for about $10,500.
We transitioned on Dec. 31 from our docket books to electronic data, Wilson said, adding the docket books are about $600 each.
One room is filled with case files, Freeman said.
(The storage) room is about 12 feet by 25 feet and its floor-to-ceiling shelves with files. You could take that whole room, if it was generated into e-data, and fit it on a handful of DVDs. You wouldnt use more than one drawer of a filing cabinet to store it. Sheriff's Capt. Mike Freeman
Besides saving space and easing data retrieval, the move to digital storage will save money, Freeman said.
Even though purchasing the software to do it sounded expensive, compared to building another building to archive it its cheaper, he said, not to mention the cost of paper, folders and labels.
For now, the department is duplicating the information on paper and in the computer until everyone is sure the system is reliable and the information will be safe from any failure, Freeman said.
Also, for cases that are being prosecuted by Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert Buzz Franklins office, a paper version must be generated, he said. Lawyers still rely on paper copies of information to be passed among the prosecution and defense, but one day the entire court system may be paperless.
In the case of inactive files, an electronic version would be enough to keep everything on the record without taking up space on a shelf, Freeman said. Current files are stored alphabetically by name on the network server.
The files are in the common PDF format readable by the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software, not in a proprietary format that requires expensive software in the future, he said. In addition to all written case information, pictures can be scanned in and digital recordings of interviews can be filed away in the computer system.
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