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Sheriff's Department's computer upgrade tends to downgrade information flow

A major computer system upgrade at the Jackson County Sheriff's Department has put parts the agency's website on the fritz, blocking public access to jail mugshots and a map pinpointing crime locations and limiting information used in the Mail Tribune's "Emergency Services" log.

The Sheriff's Department has been attempting to work the bugs out of its report-writing system since it converted to new software on Sept. 25, said sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson.

The department has adopted the system used by the Medford and Ashland police departments in order to make it easier for local agencies to share information quickly with each other and cut down on report paperwork.

"After the conversion, all our reports will be filed electronically and we won't have boxes full of paper around," she said.

But the upgrade has not gone smoothly. A few kinks have risen, causing the agency multiple headaches in recent weeks.

A part of the website showing mug shots of people lodged in jail is not available, along with a popular feature showing a map detailing where crimes have been reported in the county.

Also, the daily arrest log used by the Mail Tribune for its "Emergency Services" log, which lists all of the felony arrests made by each Jackson County police agency for the day, is not available.

Carlson said the agency has received several calls from residents frustrated by the website's problems. The Mail Tribune has fielded a number of calls and emails from readers who miss the "Emergency Services" log.

"We are frustrated as anyone," Carlson said. "Hopefully, we can get this figured out soon."

Carlson said a large chunk of the problem could be fixed by next week and the rest a few weeks after.

Department personnel have also been affected, as deputies are now writing reports by hand instead of typing them into a computer.

"It's like we've stepped back 30 years in police work," Carlson said.

However, the agency continues its regular patrol duties and is able to maintain its crime statistics that it is required to report to the state.

The patrol car computers are fully functional because they operate on a different system, Carlson said.

"We also are able to keep track of all the people we've lodged in jail," Carlson said. "These computer issues have not affected public safety."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.