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Virginia Sheriffs' Institute
Supporting Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

That’s right!  At a time when demand for service is increasing and resources are limited, the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office is working smarter and harder. Using a Mobile Data Computer (MDC) in the vehicle, staff implemented field reporting for civil process. Deputies now update the Sheriff’s Information Management System (SIMS) civil paper records with the method of service in real-time. Previously, legal papers were returned to clerical staff who updated the system with the service information. Now, documents are returned to the originating agency the next day making the process more efficient.

After Sheriff’s Office and Office of Information Technology (OIT) staff designed and built the information management system, 1st Sgt. Javid Elahi with the Prince William County Police Department and Tom Guthrie from the County’s OIT made access to the database available for the deputies from the MDC.  The system is tied to the County’s Geographical Information System and validates each address entered against known good addresses. 

Upon taking office, one of Sheriff Glen Hill’s goals was to implement field reporting for civil process and give the deputies the technology and tools they need to do their job safely.  Hill said, “I am pleased staff has accomplished this goal.  We only know of one other agency in Virginia (Arlington County) using MDCs to perform civil process.”  Deputies adapted well to the slightly increased workload. They now have a greater sense of ownership in the process knowing they are responsible for updating records assigned to them for service. Officer safety is enhanced by using the MDC to run tags, check VCIN and conduct address history inquiries. 

The system boasts other technological features, such as retaining information on previously “not found” papers, which alerts the deputies and thus prevents multiple attempts on known bad and vacated addresses. This feature has proven most helpful with the increase in evictions and foreclosures.


Deputy Mark Hurd updates civil process record from the field.

 Additionally, SIMS is available to the Juvenile and General District Court Clerks’ staff, Commonwealth Attorney’s staff and the County Attorney’s staff. Each of these agencies accesses the database to check returns of service. With real-time updates, there is no need to telephone the Sheriff’s Office to check the status of a paper being served. Clerical staff no longer has to interpret a deputy’s handwriting, thereby improving both efficiency and effectiveness. 

Chief Deputy, Major John Collier, commented “We piloted the program with two deputies and added users until all the deputies were comfortable using the system.  Most were very receptive and quick learners. Many thanks to the Police Department and OIT staff for their ongoing support, without which we could not have achieved our goal of implementing field reporting for civil process.”   

 For more information, please contact the Prince William County Sheriff’s Office at 703-792-6070 or via e-mail at [email protected].