By Angela Ward
April 15, 2013
The Rusk County Sheriff's Department is launching a new computerized crime-fighting program this week.
Commissioners unanimously approved spending just less than $3,000 a year to access the database of LEADS Online, a computerized program that allows access to information on items being sold at pawn shops and scrap dealers nationwide. The system has been used in Gregg County for a couple of years.
The database includes information on sellers as well.
"We believe this would be an important tool in helping us to track down items stolen in the county, particularly metal stolen from oil field work sites," said Lt. Deputy David Marshall.
Participating in the program would cost $2,848 annually. However, it could be paid for with seizure funds, the money made by selling off items the sheriff's department seizes as part of criminal activities, so wouldn't cost the county anything directly, Marshall said.
County Judge Joel Hale said taking part was an easy decision.
"This will provide our law enforcement officers with more tools to do their job, so it was kind of a no-brainer," he said. "We want to give them as much support as possible."
Marshall said the program not only helps law enforcement agencies, it helps businesses streamline their reporting.
"This will give us the most accurate, up-to-date information available to help track both stolen merchandise and persons of interest," Marshall said. "We really feel it's going to benefit the residents of our county."
Lt. Kirk Haddix said the Gregg County Sheriff's Department is in its second year with LEADS Online, and that it has proven valuable.
"We've been able to solve several cases," Haddix said. "It gives us access to pawn shops and scrap metal dealers not just locally, but throughout the country."
In a couple of cases, suspects had gone outside East Texas to pawn or sell stolen goods, but with LEADS Online, the Gregg County Sheriff's Department was able to retrieve the items, he said.