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Deputies’ Dispatching System Edging Back to Life, But Some Sheriff’s Data May Be Lost

| November 9, 2015

computer assisted dispatching

Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies’ Computer Assisted Dispatching, which they access in their patrol cars, had been down or only fitfully operational since Oct. 29 and until today, when it was restored. (© FlaglerLive)

The computer-assisted dispatching system used by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center and deputies in the field was operational again this afternoon after being down most of the morning, and down for about 24 hours over the weekend. Deputies use CAD to coordinate operations in real time, allow each other, including supervisors, to know their whereabouts–a safety issue–while also enabling deputies to provide brief narratives of ongoing incidents.

The CAD system went offline on Oct. 29 and had been only fitfully operational since after what one high-ranking official described as a “catastrophic failure” in the sheriff’s computer system, and which a sheriff’s spokesman described as nothing of the sort, since the system as a whole never crashed. But significant portions of the system did crash, including the server that stored nearly two years’ worth of data such as warrants, jail data and reports. Some of that data may now be lost: officials have been working to recover it, but they don’t yet know whether it can be partially or fully recovered, and they have acknowledged that a loss is possible.

While CAD has been restored, some third-party interfaces with CADS remain offline, including connections from the field to law enforcement databases deputies use to run background checks. The databases are still accessible by radio, which is how deputies used to communicate before the advent of CAD in deputies’ vehicles.

The news release this afternoon, issued by the county administration–the dispatching system is operated by the sheriff’s office but funded by the county, and is part of the county’s emergency operations–noted that dispatching emergency calls was never adversely affected. That’s correct, strictly speaking: deputies were able to respond to all calls. But deputies’ ability to coordinate among each other, and to communicate effectively with other first responders, who also rely on CAD, was affected.

Flagler County Innovative Technology employees–the name given to the county’s information technology department–are working with the New World Systems (NWS), the integrated public safety software vendor, and Microsoft to recover files from the failed server.

“A portion of the virtual hard drive was damaged,” the news release specifies. “Files may or may not be able to be recovered.”

“Microsoft is currently working several avenues to retrieve the files,” said Jarrod Shupe, Innovative Technology Director. “It is going to take some time before we know if some or all of these files can be recovered.” Affected files include mug shots, some scanned documents and warrants. Original warrants are on file with the Clerk of Courts.

Further complicating mug shot availability is that the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office website produces only the most current mug shot online, copying over older mug shots. So if an inmate was jailed before February 2014, and not since, that inmate’s image is still available. But if that inmate had been jailed since 2014, no booking images from any of that inmate’s bookings dating back several years are available. Volusia County’s online mug shot system produces a different picture for every arrest, keeping all the mug shots of the same individual.

The failure in Flagler also revealed that the sheriff’s office had not been backing up its data to an offsite facility since February 2014, as government agencies and businesses now routinely do. That sort of off-site backups is in the works, Shupe said last week, as Flagler County is the process of overhauling the entire New World Public Safety Software, which includes the CAD component – software, hardware and network engineering. That contract with New World was approved by the county commission in January, but had barely been implemented.

“We are building a whole new server infrastructure,” Shupe said. “This is all about disaster recovery business continuity planning.”

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11 Responses for “Deputies’ Dispatching System Edging Back to Life, But Some Sheriff’s Data May Be Lost”

  1. Huckleberry Finn says:

    From severs “running out of disk space” and now virtual hard drive issues, these sound like basic IT functions that could’ve been prevented.

  2. Index Finger says:

    They should be able to find all the old mug shots they want

  3. On Guard says:

    It will be only a few short months before the anarchist organization “Anonymous” will break the code for all law and justice departments servers around the world. When you send data to “off-site” backup servers, you become extremely vulnerable to hackers !!!

  4. hmmm says:

    sounds like a BIG TIME officer safety issue, not only for law enforcement but for the fire department as well.. the deputies and supervisors have no clue where each other are luckily nothing bad happened to them whilst this system was down….. … i wonder how our Napoleon Sheriff will spin this…. because as we all know this is not his fault… it is most likely Sheriff Fleming’s fault……..

  5. Boy I say inept says:

    There is no excuse for losing any records because there is no excuse for not having a redundant server on site or somewhere like the Emergency Operations Center….very poor leadership and over site! The Sheriff is ultimately responsible and cannot delegate his responsibilities.

  6. m&m says:

    Looks like the criminals got away with another one.

  7. Ray Thorne says:

    @ hmmm…..that’s his MO. I’m sure he’ll find a way to blame the last administration even though there were no issues until Manfre decided to disband the Sheriffs Office IT Dept and turned it all over to the county. This is a great example of Manfre acting in complete disregard for the ramifications of his actions. Getting rid of employees regardless of the importance of their responsibilities because of an idea to consolidate and save a few dollars looks good on his political resume. Wonder what this fiasco cost? The IT employees under the last administration kept that system running and updated accordingly. This is the problem with Manfres “business approach” that he always touts. It doesn’t work so well in a law enforcement agency but he doesn’t know law enforcement. And since I can’t think of any business success he’s had, I’m not so sure he knows Business either. And how about that contract for law enforcement services provided to the city of Palm Coast? No one wants to touch that one it seems. We’ll just keep believing the deputies are at the ready while we’re asleep at night or at work during the day. Meanwhile there’s not enough of them and the contract is violated daily. I wonder what the Sheriffs Office owes the city for all this time of falling short? Those who are in positions to question it don’t for some reason..They remain silent even though they will be accountable when tragedy strikes due to inadequate staffing of patrol because they ALL know of it. Manfre Out in 2016.

  8. Tom Sawyer says:

    Same issue reported twice in different ways.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Mr. Sawyer, there’s been two books written in Western Civilization, The Odyssey and the Iliad. Everything else has been a rewriting of either book, in different ways (Tom Sawyer was among Clemens’s lesser attempts). Journalism is somewhat less original.

  9. Sheriff drops the ball.....again says:

    A credible source in the Sheriff’s administration informed me that the needed expansion drives where simply sitting there in boxes for a long time. There is no accountability.

  10. Snitch says:

    This is what happens when you hire an IT Director who lacks the knowledge or experience to manage the magnitude and complexity of the agency. Seems that his relationship to a council member (which of whom County IT has just taken the reigns of as well) got him hired. Fault lies in charades of those inexperienced in leading bigger enterprises.

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