State Partners With Pegasus

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The state of Mississippi has introduced a new way to keep tabs on criminals and share that information between local law enforcement agencies.

First responding officers are often left in the dark when they're dealing with a past offender with a record in another county.

"Our problem in Mississippi is we probably have a thousand different databases that are all closed," said Mark McCreery of Safe City Initiative.

McCreery took his idea to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Now MDOC is teaming up with the Pegasus Research Foundation to put information on 50,000 criminals in one easily accessible place for officers.

"So, no longer will they have to place dozens of phone calls to check on suspects or inmate records in surrounding counties," said Chris Epps, MDOC Commissioner.

The database operates on a website, but users will have to be authorized and supply a finger print to get access. There they'll find pictures, and important information like if the person is on probation or parole, if they're a sex offender, or wanted for a crime.

Thirty agencies in the state are already taking part, but the goal is to get every local law enforcement agency involved.

"There's been great systems before that no one used. We've got to make sure that every police and sheriff department knows that this information is available," McCreery said.

Pegasus operates nationally, with 500 agencies contributing to the database. But Mississippi is the first state to join forces to track criminals behind bars and out in the community. It's a step that may make Mississippians feel safer.

"I think they should. And they have good reason to," said Dr. Lee Colwell of Pegasus Research Foundation.

MDOC says its next step is adding information to the database on the 8,500 inmates who were released from the prison system in 2005.