Weatherford Democrat

April 9, 2013

County postpones action on software for sheriff’s office


Weatherford Democrat

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By JUDY SHERIDAN

A recommendation from the purchasing office to go with SunGard as the supplier of new software for the Parker County Sheriff’s Office will be presented again next month, according to unanimous action taken by Parker County commissioners Monday.

The motion, made by County Judge Mark Riley, specifies that the follow-up proposal include more information, including a financial breakout and contract and financing recommendations, as well as a time line for implementation.

“I’m not interested in awarding today,” Riley said, saying there was time for the court to ask questions. “There’s a lot of money in there. We need to figure out how we’ll [budget for that] ... and put all the pieces together.” 

Commissioners awarded a contract for new judicial software to Tyler Technologies in December, voting to lease rather than purchase the Legacy upgrade called Odyssey.

The estimated cost to the county for software as a service was estimated at $3.1 million, with $1.1 million for implementation and about $396,000 per year for the next five years.

The sheriff’s office however, expressed dissatisfaction with their current law enforcement software from Tyler and said they wanted to consider other options.

The decision prompted the county to solicit proposals for the Integrated Computer Aided Dispatch, Mobile Data Computer and Law Enforcement/Fire Records Management System.

Four companies responded, purchasing agent Deena Nichols told the court Monday, with proposals ranging from $556,000 to $1,249,000. The proposal from the recommended vendor, SunGard, is between the low and high bids.

Nichols said SunGard was the pick of a review committee comprised of representatives from the sheriff’s office, fire marshal’s office, IT office, attorney’s office, auditor’s office and purchasing office.

“There were quite a few differences in the functionalities of the software, she said, “and that’s why we had to do a very extensive review of those functionalities and the associated costs to determine the best value for the county.”

Lt. Mark Arnett called efficiency the main issue for the sheriff’s office, and said SunGard was “head and shoulders above” the other contenders.  

“We want you to consider this as an investment not only in the sheriff’s office, but in the community,” he told commissioners. “We want you to think about having this 15, 20 years down the road.”

Arnett described several advantages to the selected vendor’s law enforcement software, commenting on the messaging system, search capability and opportunity for the general public to access crime information.

With the messaging system, Arnett said, there’s rapid information flow between officers.

“If a deputy runs a license plate, and it comes back stolen,” he said, “instantly, everybody at work using the system will know.” 

The software’s superior search capability will cut the huge amount of research time spent compiling reports, he said. Access to reports is immediate.

“Suppose we want to know how many burglaries occurred in Aledo on Wednesday night between the hours of three and four,” he said. “SunGard is the only system that allows us to do that instantaneously.”

The reports are also exportable into a map within the system.

“And anything you can see on the map, you can drill down into, see the report, see the suspects,” he said. “One of the things that’s specific about SunGard is whenever the user logs in, it gives them instantaneous information.

When a deputy logs in, we can set it up to where they can see all the crime that’s occurred in the last 24 hours [in their patrol area.]”

To communicate that information now, Sheriff Larry Fowler said later, deputies must attend a briefing, increasing “down” time and decreasing patrol time.

The software also lets the public identify, by map, all the crime that’s been committed in their area, Arnett said, even allowing them to generate a report online.

He said the software will allow Parker County to function more like larger agencies, like Tarrant County and the Fort Worth Police Department.

Many agencies, such as Tarrant County, the Denton County Sheriff’s Office and cities in the Mid-cities already have the software, he said, which would allow Parker County to search the records of those agencies, too.

Arnett said the software will facilitate connections between the sheriff’s office and fire dispatch.  

“Whenever our dispatcher at the sheriff’s office receives a call and there needs to be fire dispatch, there doesn’t need to be any notification from the sheriff’s office,” he said, “It will automatically pop up on their CAD system.” 

Arnett said the sheriff’s office looked at the Tyler Technologies upgrade at another agency and discovered it has the same problems they have now with the office’s current Tyler software.

Information Technology Director Trish Radford said the current product will lose technical support by the end of 2014, and it will take about a year to implement the new software.

She said other counties are integrating the Tyler and SunGard systems, showing the two are compatible.

“Law enforcement is information driven,” Fowler said later. “This system will put us way down the road. Getting information out in a timely fashion is a giant leap.”