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County Court working to go paperless
The Crook County Court and the District Attorney’s office are initiating the effort to cut down on paper copies
Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford works on notes on his laptop from the last Crook County Court Meeting on Wednesday.
August 02, 2012
The trend to go paperless is catching on in agencies around the country — and the County Court and the District Attorney’s office is starting to see the benefits of a fledgling program.
Crook County Judge Mike McCabe said that the County has been working on a plan to go paperless, beginning with these two departments.
Both of the County commissioners and Judge McCabe purchased laptops through the County to help with the process of maintaining paperless documents.
“We use them when we are out of town, of course, because we get our email and those kinds of things,” commented McCabe. “It keeps us up to date and it has been a pretty good thing from that standpoint.”
McCabe said that it can be difficult to not make hard copies of documents such as contracts and copies for people who come in at the last minute for similar documentation.
“You try to accommodate everybody and you just can’t get it scanned in for court at the last minute, so we thought we would do the paper thing for a while,” he added.
Crook County Commissioner Seth Crawford said that the County Court started to think about going paperless when they took note of how much time was being spent photocopying and the amount of paper being used for various documentation.
“We thought it would be a good idea to get some laptops to have our court documents on, to save Colleen (Court Secretary) quite a bit of time and also the cost of paper and copying.”
He said that the court packets were high on the list of multiple copies that were currently being copied and could be saved as attachments on their computer. The County Court is in the process of implementing the long-term plan of going paperless for most of their court documents.
“I think it’s a great way to save employees time, work more efficiently, as well as save money on paper and copying,” said Crawford.
The District Attorney’s office has also begun to run with the idea of going paperless, and is beginning to reap the benefits.
Crawford explained that various County departments have set up a common database to make accessibility to key information more seamless, and without the need to make hard copies.
“What we have done is we have gone paperless with the District Attorney’s office,” he said. “What it does is it connects the Sheriff’s office, the DA’s office, and the Juvenile office—so they are not running files back and forth to each other. Once they input something, it’s in a database that they can all access.”
He noted that all the information is confidential between the offices, and it is more efficient. Crawford said that the Crook County Court has approved the process and they are in the beginning phase of implementation.
“The majority of counties in Oregon are using this system,” said Crawford. “From the research that we have found, this is the best system.”
Crook County Commissioner Ken Fahlgren agreed that it is cost-effective to go paperless.
“We have some tools now that help us get at least a portion of that taken care of,” said Fahlgren. “We can save a little money by doing that, and it will also save some of the time by our secretarial staff -- by not having to make so many copies, and not to have to try to find our books and put things together for us neatly so we can find them as well. There is always a time savings by being able to just back it up in your system.”
Fahlgren cautioned, however, that there is always the risk of overlooking the interaction with peers when attention is focused on technology devices.
“You just don’t gain the values that you may have had if you had your attention span on that person,” said Fahlgren.
“Honestly, though, it’s the future, and it’s probably where we need to be going, and we have made steps to (accomplish) that.”