Santa Clara County Court System Glitch for Warrants Putting Cops, Community at Risk: Police

A glitch in the Santa Clara County court's new computer program for warrants is a cause for concern for local police.

Officers say when they pull someone over, they are unable to tell if the suspect has an outstanding warrant for his arrest. Police say the issue with the court's Odyssey System is putting everyone in the community in danger.

"This needs to be fixed today," San Jose Police Sgt. Paul Kelly said.

Kelly also serves as the San Jose Police Officer Association's president.

"The officers and the community absolutely are in jeopardy," he said.

The clerks fired off an e-mail to the court administrator last week warning the glitch is putting officers and the community in danger. NBC Bay Area obtained an internal alert sent to Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputies in December. The message warned deputies to be extra vigilant.

San Jose police officers will get a similar alert soon.

"It's ludicrous to think that because of a flawed system and backlog, that now our members, the officers in this county, and the people in this community, are jeopardized, Kelly said.

Residents were alarmed to hear of the glitch.

"That's really concerning," San Jose resident Britt Shafran said. "That's very scary. That makes me frightened."

On Thursday morning, the court sent staff a memo saying it is working to fix the problem.

In an e-mail to NBC Bay Area, the court said public safety is paramount.

The court said it has implemented additional validation steps, to ensure that officers in the field have the up-to-date info they need. But officers are not so sure, and say they are the ones who feel handcuffed now.

"I think problematic is not strong enough," Kelly said. "It can be horrific."


Benjamin Rada, Santa Clara County Court spokesman, discusses the Odyssey System in the following Q&A session with NBC Bay Area:

What is the issue with the Odyssey System?

There is no issue with the Odyssey System itself. Reports of any warrant backlogs are a symptom of the County Justice Community’s work to ensure that, as part of the implementation of the Odyssey System, all warrants provided to law enforcement are accurate and correct.  In partnership with law enforcement, we are temporarily devoting additional time and attention to validate the information contained in a warrant so that it can be processed with speed and confidence.

When will it be fixed? What are the options?

We are steadily improving our processes and working in partnership with other members of the justice community to shorten the time that these warrant validations require. The options for improvement involve enhancements to business processes and computer systems that facilitate the handling of warrants and we are pursuing them in an orderly fashion. Improvements in the speed of warrant validation have already occurred and will continue as our processes and computer systems are enhanced.

Your response to concerns of law enforcement, that this is a public safety issue?

All of us in the justice community consider public safety to be of paramount importance, which is exactly why we have temporarily implemented additional validation steps. We are committed to providing law enforcement with the accurate and complete warrants that are so important to public safety.

What’s being done to assure that all suspected criminals with warrants are arrested upon contact with law enforcement?

Where a warrant is considered to be of particular urgency or risk we utilize existing fast-track processes that were already in place prior to the implementation of the Odyssey System. This has and will continue to be done in partnership with law enforcement and further demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that suspected criminals are properly arrested upon contact with law enforcement.

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