New records system could end the paper chase

New records system could end the paper chase

Source: Bradford County news 
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Bradford Sheriff Gordon Smith told the county commission Monday that he and his office has been working with other county and municipal departments on a unified records management system. “We’ve got to have something that’s more efficient and a whole lot less expensive,” Smith said.

Smith said the county has paid purchasing and annual maintenance or licensing costs for software that was supposed to be used in vehicles and at the fire stations that was never installed. Since 1997, he said the county has spent more than $1 million is records management software and used only about 60 percent of it.

The goal is to make the records system paperless, or as paperless as possible. When an officer files a report, that report should be able to be pulled up in the clerk’s office, the jail, the state attorney’s office, the courts, other law enforcement agencies in the county, etc.

Currently most are running on different systems. Even the jail and sheriff’s office are on separate systems. The result is a daily paper chase for those who work in these agencies, one that Smith hopes to help put a stop to.

“Our people wear their legs out chasing paper every single day,” the sheriff said.

mith tried working a deal with one of the current vendors the county spends tens of thousands of dollars with each year, but couldn’t cut a deal that didn’t involve spending thousands more on software the county had already purchased. Instead, the sheriff is now looking elsewhere.

The system under consideration-SmartCOP from CTS America-is one used by Florida Highway Patrol, Baker County, Union County and others. The Eighth Judicial Circuit “loves it” and already has four of its counties using the system, according to Smith. In addition to everyone working from the same system, there will be enhancements such as computer-aided dispatch in emergency vehicles that should help reduce response times. When dispatch sends the information, it will pull up the address and map on the rescue unit’s (or fire engine’s) computer screen, Smith said. A unified system will also eliminate the need to enter data multiple times in different offices. It will be entered once and then be available elsewhere to those who need it. Smith said the county would be saving time and money.

Members in charge of the Intergovernmental Communications Fund agreed to invest in the purchase of the software. The first-year purchase installment of $68,000 will be paid out of IGCF funds. Smith hopes to use grant or other funds to pay for the three subsequent payments and not draw those yearly payments from IGCF. He will budget for the payments in fines and forfeitures and use that money, if necessary, to completely pay for the software.

There is no maintenance cost during year one. After that, the system will cost the county $39,000 annually versus the $71,000 the county is paying each year for the current system, Smith said. Every municipality has agreed to the software switch, Smith said, which means every law enforcement agency, fire and EMS station, and court office will be on the same system. The county commission joined IGCF in agreeing to the purchase of the new software.

Clerk Ray Norman said a lot could have been done prior to now, but Smith is taking a giant step to making it happen now. It will save time and effort for all agencies involved, he said. “It’s really a big step in the right direction,” Norman said.

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