Iowa courts launch electronic search warrant program

By: - May 8, 2020 3:52 pm

The Iowa Judicial Building. (Photo courtesy of Iowa Judicial Branch)

The Iowa Judicial Branch is launching an electronic search warrant pilot program in several rural counties as these areas face “significant delays” in executing warrants, according to an order from Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen.

Typically, law enforcement agencies fill out a paper application for a search warrant and physically bring it to a judicial officer who will review and issue a warrant. 

But as Iowa’s rural courts lose more judicial officers and magistrates due to budgetary constraints, law enforcement officers have to drive long distances to deliver search warrant applications, resulting in delays and travel costs, according to the order.

“The use of electronic search warrants will substantially alleviate these issues,” according to the order.

The goal of the pilot program is to develop procedures and training for judicial officers and law enforcement agencies and identify areas for improvement.

The program will start in Freemont, Mills, Montgomery and Page counties. After the program is finished, the Iowa Supreme Court will decide if it should be implemented permanently.

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