The Delaware County Sheriff's Office hopes a new online registration system will make it easier for residents to obtain or renew concealed-carry permits.
The agency debuted an online system earlier this month that allows residents to schedule appointments to obtain or renew a license. The scheduling tool can be accessed through the office's website, delawarecountysheriff.com.
Sheriff's office spokeswoman Tracy Whited said that before online scheduling was available, residents had to reach the department's lone concealed-handgun license specialist via phone to schedule an appointment. She said the process was "highly inconvenient" and difficult for residents who worked normal business hours.
"We were playing telephone tag, and it's not a good use of anyone's time," she said.
Residents who use the online scheduling tool receive a confirmation email that lists the materials they need to bring to their appointment to apply for a license. The system also sends a reminder email or text 24 hours before the scheduled appointment.
The system costs the sheriff's office $25 per month, which Whited said was an especially good deal compared to the alternative: hiring another staffer.
The same online scheduling software was being used by sheriff's offices in Medina and Wood counties when Delaware County adopted it.
Whited said the office's conclusion after seeing the scheduling system in action for a few weeks is that it's working.
"When we come in to work the next morning, there's not 25 (phone) messages (from) people wanting to schedule an appointment," she said.
Delaware County's implementation of the scheduling system follows a large statewide increase in the number of new and renewal concealed-carry permits issued.
Almost 97,000 new permits were issued in the state in 2013, according to the Ohio Attorney General's office. In each of the four years prior, no more than 65,000 new permits were issued in a single year.
More than 48,300 residents renewed their licenses in 2013. In the four years prior, no more than 16,700 residents renewed their licenses in a single year.
The uptick in renewals can largely be attributed to the fact that the current concealed-carry law requires licenses be renewed every five years.
Delaware County issued 982 new licenses in 2013 -- a five-year low. The county issued 1,088 new licenses the previous year, which represents the five-year high.
County residents, however, renewed 731 licenses in 2013, which was by far a five-year high.
Whited said the office spends an average of three hours processing each concealed-carry application it receives.