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Other counties looking at sheriff's software move

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 18, 2011 at 3:18 a.m.


PANEL'S TIME FRAME

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said the sheriff's office needed to decide within two to three weeks whether to go forward with the Southern Software product.

The Victoria County Sheriff's Office has become an integral part of other counties' information-sharing plans.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor spoke to the commissioners court on Thursday about his intention to move to a new records software by Southern Software.

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

O'Connor has indicated he will move forward with a replacement by Southern despite opposition. While the court controls the budget, the $325,000 Southern product would come via the Department of Public Safety.

DPS chose Victoria County and surrounding counties in its information-sharing program via Southern's software, O'Connor said.

Those counties were looking at Victoria County as part of the matrix to make the program work, O'Connor said.

Chief Deputy Terry Simons has said he didn't think the other sheriffs' offices would lose their spots in the program if Victoria County didn't participate. But he noted that Victoria County books more inmates in a day than the rest combined.

Other departments' personnel affected by the move voiced opposition at a court meeting. They said it would increase their workloads.

To integrate Odyssey and the Southern software, the county would have to purchase a third program called County Connect. Polk County paid $30,000 for it. Sestak said using three programs could cause confusion.

Simons has said Odyssey didn't fulfill the sheriff's office's needs. O'Connor has described the chance to get the Southern product as a once in a lifetime situation.

Looking forward, O'Connor asked the court to put one of its commissioners on an independent panel.

The panel would be made up of three members of the sheriff's office advisory committee. O'Connor and Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Janak would be non-voting, advisory members.

Tyler, Southern, the IT department can present their case to the committee, O'Connor said. The panel would report to O'Connor, who would with the panel report to the court.

Yet the final decision would belong to O'Connor, he said.

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