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Johnson County sheriff's office goes paperless

BY MANDI CAROZZA | JANUARY 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has a resolution to lose weight.

This year, the office is shedding pounds of paper by posting daily complaints online instead of faxing paper copies to various agencies.

Before the office made daily complaints available online, the staff was ankle-deep in paper.

The office faxed hundreds of paper complaints last month alone, Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek told The Daily Iowan on Tuesday.

“There were more than 300 indictable complaints that came in during the month of December 2012,” he said.

Pulkrabek said the office is working to “take the burden off of staff” by implementing a new complaints system that automatically uploads complaints online in PDF format.

The complaints are available at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office webpage.

At a cost of approximately $250 in IT staff time, the Sheriff’s Office’s complaints system eliminates any future need for people to fax complaints.

And the Sheriff’s Office isn’t the only one recycling the idea of paper and opting for electronic.

“Johnson County is actually doing quite a bit to ‘green’ our daily government operations, and the Sheriff’s Office is on the forefront,” said Josh Busard, Johnson County assistant planner and sustainability coordinator.

“It is a strategic goal of the Board of Supervisors to be a leader in sustainability.”

Among Johnson County’s sustainability goals are efforts to increase recycling and to make county buildings more sustainable.

“We have tackled everything from making recycling easier for county employees to major capital-improvement projects to make our buildings more energy efficient,” Busard said.

“For example, the Health and Human Services Building is LEED certified, and we recently upgraded several facilities to LED lighting technology.”

Similar to Johnson County’s sustainability efforts, the University of Iowa is making changes to reduce paper use.

“I can tell you that at the UI, we have gone paperless in many areas, including our workflow process,” said Liz Christiansen, the director of the UI Office of Sustainability.

According to the university’s 2011 sustainability report, the UI accepts almost all admissions applications online, and the copy paper purchases decreased 57 percent from fiscal 2005 to fiscal 2009.

Not only is this switch from paper to electronic more sustainable, it is more productive.

“It was very easy for us to set up,” the Johnson County IT Director Jean Schultz said about the Sheriff’s Office new complaints system.

Though the Coralville police have yet to make the switch to paperless complaints, Chief of Police Barry Bedford said the department would like to do so.

As far as Pulkrabek is concerned, the complaint system has no economic setbacks.

“All positives,” he said. “It allows the electronic world to do the work that people were doing before.”


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