By Bob Hembree
Lake Powell Chronicle
PHOENIX – The Arizona Protective Order Initiation and Notification Tool on Jan. 2 went live. The new tool is designed to increase efficiency for law enforcement and the judicial system when processing Order of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment.
Arizona courts issue over 42,000 orders of protection/injunctions against harassment each year on average. Only 50 percent were getting served. It was taking up to 13 days to serve order of protection and about 10 days to reach the National Crime Information Center, which is necessary for enforcement. The previous paper-based system was outdated. The delays in processing left victims at risk.
“The first role of government is to keep our citizens safe,” said Sheila Polk, chairwoman for the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission. “With this in mind, we worked to streamline the process using technology to obtain an order of protection or an injunction against harassment. The new system allows those seeking protection to fill out their request online in the privacy of their home and visit any court in the state for the application to be processed. It also removes the burden of serving the order from the party seeking protection and gives petitioners real-time information on their case. Overall, this new system will create a safer environment for everyone.”
The Arizona Criminal Justice Commission received a grant to perform a statewide assessment on the protection order/injunction against harassment process. Over 300 court personnel, victim advocates, prosecutors, law enforcement and constables in all 15 counties collaborated, developing best practices and legislative proposals. In 2018, the Arizona Legislature passed House Bill 2249, which allowed all partnering agencies to:
- To implement an electronic order of protection/injunction against harassment system that allows petitioners to complete a petition remotely;
- Allowing the court to automatically initiate service to the servicing agency;
- Make the court the holder of the Protective Order Record;
- Allow for a victim notification system that can give petitioners real-time information on their case;
- Keep plaintiff address and contact information confidential by default;
- Servicing agency has 72 hours to file an affidavit, declaration, acceptance or return of service with the court (prior seven days).
ACJC’s Executive Director Andrew LeFevre said, “The new AZPOINT system is a game-changer for Arizona’s citizens who are seeking protection from an abusive partner or harassing neighbor. The dedicated cross-agency team made up of state, county and local agencies, and organizations deserve a huge thank you for their two years of hard work to bring this system to life – a system that will help to save lives in Arizona.”
Victims without internet access or uncomfortable with technology can still file paper documents in the courts.
For more information, visit azpoint.azcourts.gov