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Butler County struggles with Zuercher software

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The Butler County Sheriff's Office, jail and dispatch have been waiting to go live with a new software system for almost two years.

On Dec. 16, 2019, the Butler County Board of Supervisors added the Butler County Sheriff's Office to an interlocal agreement to use a Zuercher Technologies law enforcement case management system.

Zuercher Technologies was acquired by CentralSquare Technologies in 2018, along with a couple of other companies.

According to minutes from the Dec. 16, 2019 board meeting, the board agreed to join the "Zuercher Project," an interlocal agreement to move to a new case management system that included a number of other public safety agencies in Seward, York and Saline counties.

The hope was to provide public safety system cohesion by getting everyone on the same software.

"One of the selling points of Zuercher was that they tied everybody together," Butler County 911 Coordinator Myndi Petersen said at a Nov. 1 Butler County Board of Supervisors meeting.

At that Nov. 1 meeting, Butler County Detention Administrator Angie Siebken said cohesion has been achieved in places where the system has gone live. However, the jails in those places are noncompliant with state regulations. At the meeting, Butler County Sheriff Tom Dion said noncompliance can result in fines.

Scotts Bluff County went live with the Zuercher system years ago and has been struggling to get into compliance since then.

An Aug. 24 article from the Star-Herald in Scottsbluff indicated that the problem boils down to the new software system not talking to other ones correctly. When the new system tries to share information with other systems, the data can get garbled and may be transmitted with mistakes.

But that problem isn't unique to Scotts Bluff County.

"They had so many people go live at once and they're noncompliant," Siebken said. "When you're noncompliant they can fine you, they can shut your jail down. So they are trying to get the people that went live compliant before letting anyone else go live. They're trying to work out the kinks, basically."

When that will be done is up in the air: In the August Star-Herald article, November, December and February were all mentioned as possibilities.

"It took Seward County from November of last year until July of this year to get compliant," Siebken said. "I know Platte County, Dodge County and … Scotts Bluff -- all of them are live and they're trying to get their data to the state correctly before they let anyone else go (live)."

In the meantime, Butler County's jail, dispatch and sheriff's office have re-upped their existing software system contracts for another year.

Board Chairman and District 7 Supervisor Anthony Whitmore said the county can continue to wait or it can try to get its money back from Zuercher.

"The whole deal was for $120,000 or $130,000 and we've paid $96,000 or $97,000," Whitmore said at the Nov. 1 meeting.

Petersen said they have something like $23,000 to pay off when -- or if -- they go live.

At the end of the discussion, the board directed Dion to look into any legal options to get out of the contract or recoup the money the county has spent.

Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach her via email at molly.hunter@lee.net.

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