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Local law enforcement says state background checks down amid ransomware attack fallout

2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago Thursday, November 21 2019 Nov 21, 2019 November 21, 2019 10:10 PM November 21, 2019 in News
Source: WBRZ

UPDATE: Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn says his department's system for background checks is back up and running as of Monday.

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BATON ROUGE - Law enforcement agencies reportedly cannot get into the state's background check system, meaning no access to criminal histories or active warrants.

They've been blocked out for four days since the ransomware attack on state computers.

Police departments in the area are saying that this isn't just an inconvenience, but also a safety concern for officers.

"It's kind of working partially in the blind,” Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn said.

Dunn said that's how his department and others across the state have had to work since a hack took hold of state computers on Monday.

It's causing troubles for them to run federal background checks through their data system.

"We use that for running any kind of identification check, drivers licenses, warrants," Dunn said.

The National Crime Information Center, or NCIC, is also used to look up criminal history, wanted fugitives, stolen property and missing persons.

A law enforcement official who did not want to be identified told WBRZ that "it is likely someone who should be taken into custody because of their warrants in other areas will be released."

The department is temporarily using archived information to stay on top of things.

"We are unable to run any kind of warrant. Other than local warrants that we have actually put out that we have in a filing cabinet. That my dispatcher can physically get up from her desk, from her computer and the radio, walk over to the file cabinet and thumb through to try to find their name,” Dunn said.

Dunn said that without their normal checks and balances system that his main concern is officer safety.

"Just say that there's a stolen vehicle used in an armed robbery, and we stop that vehicle. Even calling in that plate, there's nothing the dispatcher can do but write the plate down, type it into the computer that that vehicle has been stopped. Instead of an automatic check, they call that officer, tell him to be aware,” Dunn said.

He, like many around the state, hope that this issue can be resolved as quickly as possible.

"Yeah in the next five minutes would be perfect," Dunn said.

Since NCIC is used by law enforcement nationwide, agencies in other states could, in an emergency, do searches and relay the results to departments here.

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