South Bay officers claim new court computer system putting public at risk

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Officers and deputies in the South Bay are blaming a computer glitch for putting their safety and the public's at risk. It's putting a new court system in the crosshairs, yet the software company and the court says they're not at fault.

Officers routinely check to see if people they encounter have an outstanding warrant for a crime. However, that has become a problem, according to these representatives from three police associations. They're blaming a new computer system managing records at Santa Clara County Superior Court, similar to one operating for two years in Alameda County.

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Since the South Bay system went live in November, there has been a backlog of warrants. Officers say their lives are at risk without up to date warrant information.

"Without that information, we cannot know if a person is wanted for a violent crime," said Lt. Tracy Hern, vice president of the Sunnyvale Public Safety Officers Association. "We cannot know who we're pulling over knows that they have a warrant which we're not going to know. We don't know if the person believes it's better to shoot at a cop than go to jail. And we're not going to know if we're letting go a killer."

Santa Clara County spent about $2.25 million on Odyssey, its new court records system. However, both the court administration and Tyler Technologies, say it's not the software.

"We have investigated these claims," Tyler said in a statement, "and have verified that Tyler and our products are in no way involved in the issues presented."

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The court said in a statement, "Officer and public safety is a priority for the court. The majority of the existing warrant backlogs are for low-level crimes. Arrest warrants are being expedited for law enforcement agencies upon request."

A year ago, a public defender and a prosecutor in Alameda County told ABC7 News about problems they encountered after switching. The criminal courts are still using Odyssey while the civil courts are negotiating to terminate their contract.

The three police associations would like to revert to the old computer system. However, the Court says that is not an option.
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