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Sheriff's move to new software long-term project

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 15, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.


COSTS TO COUNTY

Although the sheriff's office would receive the Southern software for free, it may burden Victoria County with other costs. If the county wanted to continue the integration between its departments, it would have to purchase County Connect, which Polk County bought for $30,000.

Also, IT staff would have to install the Southern software, which could take months.

Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor on Monday indicated he would pursue new software for his office despite opposition by county personnel.

The county uses a $1.5 million software called Odyssey, the latest version bought in 2006 to a replace a system from the 1980s. Odyssey shares information between the sheriff's office, criminal district attorney, county and district clerks, said John Sestak, IT director.

Judge Don Pozzi said that the sheriff's office was involved in the process of acquiring Odyssey. However, Chief Deputy Terry Simons told the court in a budget workshop last Tuesday that O'Connor intended to move forward with the Southern software installation.

That set off a back-and-forth between the judge and Simons as to whether the sheriff would go ahead with the installation no matter what the court said.

The sheriff may acquire and use the Southern software since it wouldn't require funding from the county, Simons said.

County personnel from the departments affected by such a move met Thursday. None supported the sheriff's new software, saying it would increase their workloads.

The move toward Southern software started two years ago when O'Connor was put on a board with other sheriffs.

The board chose three software vendors to present to other law enforcement agencies a year ago. All the sheriff offices chose Southern software, Simons said.

The Department of Public Safety, which headed the project, chose the Victoria County Sheriff's Office around July to receive the $325,000 software for free, Simons said. DPS also chose Calhoun, DeWitt, Lavaca, Goliad and Jackson counties' sheriff offices to be recipients.

This would allow the sheriffs offices to share information, Simons said. He didn't believe the other counties would lose their spots in the program if Victoria County chose not to participate.

Simons said the sheriff's office wanted to leave the Odyssey program because it did not fulfill the office's needs.

Odyssey doesn't send racial profiling data to a state agency in the manner the agency requires. The software doesn't automatically calculate when a jail inmate must be released, requiring two workers to do the calculations independently and then verify with one another.

Under the DPS program, Victoria County would also receive needed software used by dispatchers. This would save the county from buying Tyler's $140,000 version of the program.

The Southern software also wouldn't allow other county departments to edit the sheriff's office reports, Simons said.

Sheriff O'Connor said his office would likely go with Southern. His office has tried working with the program the last three years, he said.

"How long do you hang with something until you just got to have another option?" O'Connor asked.

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