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Sheriff’s Lost Computer Files Are Recovered, But County Faces a $1.1 Million IT Fix

| December 8, 2015

it computer upgrade flagler sheriff county

Hal needs an upgrade. (James Vaughan)

Following the crash of a critical system at the sheriff’s office in late October, and the temporary loss of 18 months of data, the bill is now in for necessary upgrades to the county’s and sheriff’s office’s computer infrastructure: $1.1 million. Of that, $600,000 was budgeted ahead of the crash. But $500,000 was not. The county commission will have to find that money. And that’s just for this year.

“We’re going to have IT investments over the next four, five years,” County Administrator Craig Coffey told the county commission in a workshop Monday as he summed up the long-checkered history of the system and briefed them on what’s needed to bring it out of technology’s equivalent of a bygone age.

There was good news. The system known as computer-assisted dispatching, or CAD—which enables the information deputies and firefighters share and depend on while on patrol–had crashed on Oct. 29, taking down with it much of the sheriff’s office’s daily functionality and access to such things as jail records, ongoing investigation records and criminal background databases. But after sending the damaged hard drives to a forensic recovery company (and paying about $20,000), all files were recovered and, by Dec. 2, restored.

“We did lose them for that period of time but we were able to fully recover all the files,” Coffey said. “We now have a double-backup redundancy in place,” with back-ups taking place hourly, and a triple back-up system planned. But the process revealed the needs for much broader improvements.

The CAD system was installed in 2007 at a cost of $2 million to the county budget. Even then, it was not configured correctly—at least not according to New World systems, the vendor, as Coffey relayed the history to commissioners. “From the fire side all the way to the main system we never trained the maintenance folks, never trained the end users properly in order to manage the system,” he said, “so we bought this expensive system, no one really knew how to use it functionally or the way it should work, so we’ve always had some issues.”

The sheriff’s office managed it until 2014, when the county took it over and bought new hardware for over $100,000. “We’re now trying to correct all the problems that we’ve had since the beginning,” Coffey said. One of the problems that exemplify its discordance with current needs: the system was running on two servers when it should have been running on 12.

The necessary fix’s cost is to be split between the county’s budget and the sheriff’s, though in the end it all comes down to the same pot: the general revenue of county government, funded in large part by county residents’ property taxes. “Where does the sheriff get his money? Back to you guys,” Coffey told commissioners.

The part that has not been budgeted covers hardware. For example, computer network switches are a decade old. They have to be replaced. The system’s backbone servers that carry mail, store files and include backups, all need replacement. Much of the operating system is not supported anymore. Backup equipment and off-site back-up storage will have to be put in place. That batch of improvements will cost $275,000 over the next six to 12 months. The county’s IT backbone infrastructure has its own similar needs, adding another $175,000.

And more hardware is needed, including an emergency phone system at the sheriff’s office, an internal alarm system with panic buttons, a camera system for the new interview rooms at the sheriff’s office, a cable television system and other related infrastructure improvements will add more costs. That figure is undetermined. “The sheriff is paying for a lot of these things,” Coffey said, not putting a price tag on them.

Coffey was preparing commissioners to be presented with heavy IT budget requests every year for the near future.  “Our telephone system is now eight years old. We can’t do paperless management, stuff like that, more online stuff,” he said, though some departments—such as the building division—may be able to tap into grants for those upgrades. Other constitutional officers such as the tax collector will likely have needs of their own for their IT infrastructure.

The costs are a reflection of years of neglect when, during and after the Great Recession, the county delayed serious capital improvements, including improvements to its computer systems. That delay is now costing the county. Spending money now will or should conversely prevent the sort of crises that took the sheriff by surprise in October.

“You’re putting out less fires,” Jarrod Shupe, the county’s new innovation technology director, said. “We’re spending so much labor hours, man hours right now, putting out fires, trying to keep stuff together, we’re paying for extra support on equipment that really isn’t supported any longer, so we have to pay a third-party vendor to provide the back-up support on pretty substantial equipment.”

The projected fix is expected to be in place by the end of next year. Next, however, comes the commission’s numbers challenge: where to get the money for the fixes, and what other projects to delay or forego. Commissioners, none of whom is more conversant with IT than the overwhelming majority of sentient beings, did not take on those issues at the end of a long workshop Monday, declining so much as another workshop on the subject.


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12 Responses for “Sheriff’s Lost Computer Files Are Recovered, But County Faces a $1.1 Million IT Fix”

  1. Gkimp says:

    Maybe we should wait and let the new Sheriff do the necessary upgrades so it’s not done the Manfre/Staly way. Let’s wait and see,that it gets done right. I am fairly fimiliar with CAD and Police RMS, and I’m not sure the same people who allowed this system get this outdated without a compresensive plan should be making decisions going forward.

  2. 30 year Cop says:

    Gkimp, I agree with you, the incompetence of Manfre and his side-kick Staly have cost us dearly. I am looking forward to having a fresh face as our next Sheriff. For the past 16 years the Sheriff’s Office has been run by Fleming and Manfre and look how far behind the times the Agency is.
    I urge my fellow Flagler citizens to do your homework on the other candidates and let’s put in office a true leader with proven Executive POLICE experience.

  3. SSDD says:

    $600k and $500k in IT infrastructure upgrades per side? Something doesn’t add up here. I wonder what the City of Palm Coast spent for IT in a brand new building let alone “needing to catch up!” For the kind of money proposed you would think the County and the Sheriff hadn’t invested one red cent in technology since 2000! A better question commissioners should be asking is why did it take a failure in equipment to prompt the need to spend the $? Who ultimately approves or denies budget requests for this kind of thing?

  4. m&m says:

    Our tax dollars at work. Thanks to Manfre and Coffey.

  5. The Truth says:

    The City of Palm Coast had a $2.5 million budget for FY2015.

  6. confidential says:

    Always the intended brainwashing ignorance blaming our current sheriff for the intentional blunders of FCBOCC and their overpaid, overrated, useless county manager Coffey, that should have already been fired and not instead renewed his contract. He is the one to be booted and given credit for this huge IT failure and not Manfre! Manfre was forced to join the county system and had no other choice than try to be a team player with them and anyway his unfair witch hunt is alive and well again.
    This county is always about more taxes so they can waste in (money grabbing) contracted blunders while dumping the blame on innocent elected by the people constitutional officials or the cities using even derogatory adjectives like a four letter insult to a lady SOE and or “garbage” to our Palm Coast Chief Beadle statement.

  7. Gladfly says:

    Hell they have the cash. Just go and pick it off the money tree. Palm Coast does.

  8. gkimp says:

    You can outsource the work, but you cannot outsource the responsibility. From earlier articles it was clear Manfe/Staly team failed to pay support contracts. If they would have paid those contracts the vendor would have been responsible for supporting the system up until they gave sufficient notice that due to the age of the server or totally out dated software they would no longer support the system. The upgrade planning should have started within days of taking office, Information Technology (IT), Records Management Systems (RMS), and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems have become a major part of modern policing, their is just no excuse the current Sheriff and his former Under Sheriff can offer including the finger pointing. The Sheriff is a constitutional office, the County Administrator has no actual authority he or she cannot “make” the Sheriff do anything, and if he did it to play nice he still has responsibility to make sure it’s all working. Plenty of money seems to be spend on a Public Relation (re-election campaign) at tax payers expense. Instead of paying to tell us all to lock our cars almost daily with paid advertisement; spend that money on keeping your IT systems state of the art.

  9. Ray Thorne says:

    @ Confidential,

    Please give it a rest already. The county commission “forced” nothing.
    But one thing I’d like to know is if background checks are done on the county employees who have and have had access to the sheriffs office reporting system. When it was Sheriffs Office civilian employees checks were done and they were sworn into the sheriffs office. There is a lot of private personal information contained in police reports which gets redacted when a public request for the report is made. These people have access to all of that private info the second a report is made and they are not employees of the law enforcement agency.
    Looking forward to Manfre’s departure in 2016.

  10. Wake up BOCC says:

    Coffey should pay it from his personal account since he is the one responsible for firing Donnie Wines! What is it going to take for the BOCC to recognize they have an administrator that is not what Flagler County needs and deserves? There is no excuse for this! In 2016 the voters need to vote out the incumbents!!!!!!!! This BOCC acts like they are brain dead. It is obvious they don’t have any regard as to how our tax dollars are spent.

  11. Anonymous says:

    @ 30 year Cop:

    Can’t argue with you the flubbery of the current administration and that they have taken things backward, but I can argue that the Fleming years saw a lot of forward progress. We had a gang issue that was allowed to grow under Manfres first term and taken seriously by Flemings administration where they worked to bring RICO charges on that criminal element here. Deputy wages under Manfres first term were unsustainable. Fleming worked to bring those wages up to where deputies could survive without seeking secondary employment or applying for food stamps. Yes….food stamps. I have yet to decide who I’ll be voting for in the Sheriff’s race but as we support the people we hope to see win in any election, we shouldn’t be so willing to tear down other candidates by lumping them together when facts surely prove otherwise….Fleming did some great things for that Dept. and our community that can’t just be dismissed. I look forward to hearing what all the candidates have to say.

  12. 30 year Cop says:

    @ Anonymous

    Fleming did some good things while he was Sheriff for 8 years. But it is time to move forward with a fresh, experienced and ETHICAL Candidate for Sheriff. On the Republican side there are 6 candidates registered. 3 of the candidates are Florida certified, meaning the other 3 candidates could not be Depities but want to run the Agency (neither Fleming or Manfre were certified and Manfre was NEVER a Cop). At least 3 candidates have switched parties, Staly has changed party loyalty 3 times. One candidate has NEVER been a Police Officer. At least 3 candidates don’t have Police Executive experience. Manfre is the only candidate on the Democrat ticket and there is one candidate with no party affiliation.

    I suggest voters do their homework on all the candidates.

    I am voting for someone Florida Certified, Police Executive Experience and loyal to the Party, I am voting for………

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