Software issue again raised with Commission

Published 9:38 am Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting new software for the Sheriff’s Office has been made a priority for the Crenshaw County Commission after Johnny Brunson removed his software from the county’s computers.

Brunson came to the Commission in May asking for $3,000 per month in licensing on software he had designed and installed on the computers at the Sheriff’s Office.

Brunson said that since he held the license to the software, he had the right to remove it if the Commission decided not to enter into a contract.

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At the time, Brunson said “it’s not unreasonable to give you until the end of the month” to make a decision.
The evening County Commission meeting in May was canceled because it fell on Memorial Day, and at the June 11 meeting, the Commission told Brunson they would have a decision at this week’s meeting.

Brunson said he removed his software on June 17.

“They were notified ahead of time,” said Brunson, who was not in attendance at Monday’s Commission meeting.

Brunson said that hard copies of important documents were made for the CCSO before he uninstalled the software.

“I told them if there’s something else that they have or need to let me know,” he said.

One of the concerns of the Commission is that confidential data and records were taken from the computer system.

“Data should not have left the premises,” said Commissioner Merrill Sport.

“He doesn’t have that,” Sheriff Charles West told the Commission. “The data is there until where he took it off.”

Brunson said that he only took his software and no records.

“I have none of their data,” he said.

County Attorney Levi Nichols raised the point that even though the data may be there, not having a way to access it could pose a problem.

“I’m not saying he broke the law, but it is open to interpretation,” Nichols said.

According to the Code of Alabama Section 13A-10-12, a person commits the crime of tampering with government records if “knowing he lacks the authority to do so, he intentionally destroys, mutilates, conceals, removes or otherwise substantially impairs the verity or availability of any governmental record.”

Brunson said that his software produced a printed copy of records.

“Anything my software produces required by the state is in hard copy down there,” he said. “There is no destruction, there is no obstruction. They have it. Everything that was produced is in paper form. For instance, a pistol permit — it is printed out. There is a copy up there.”

Brunson also said that a similar removal of software happened in Butler County.

“Butler County had a software package called Bloodhound, and they were unhappy with it,” Brunson said. “They contracted with Southern Software, I think, and when they quit paying Bloodhound, they immediately removed the software.”

Nichols said that there is a “broad spectrum in price” for law enforcement software, depending on the need.

“I don’t like the way it was handled, but he [the Sheriff] needs software to help him,” said Commissioner Michelle Stephens after heated discussion between the Commission and West.

West agreed to ask Brunson to re-install the software until a permanent solution is found.

West also told the Commission that he had a meeting and demonstration set up for Tuesday morning with Southern Software, a company that markets software to law enforcement.

Nichols said that any software purchase would have to be bid.

In other business, the Commission talked with Walter Lewis, an investment banker with Gardnyr Michael Capital, Inc., about financing a bond for road and bridge work.

The county was recently awarded over $2 million through a state grant program to replace bridges on the Petrey Highway.

More rounds of grants are set for later this year, and the anticipation is that Crenshaw County will have other bridge projects funded and will have to match the grants.

Lewis laid out the county’s options for $2 million or $3 million over either 10 or 15 years.

“You might have the debt limit that you can afford something, but the cash flow might not be there,” he said. “My problem to solve is to figure out how to get what you want in the parameters the county has to work with.”

The Commission decided to look at the various options and make a decision at the next meeting.

“We want to have this out of the way by the end of September, with November deadlines and the budget coming up,” said Commissioner Charlie Sankey.