Innovative Solutions

Two decades later, Bradford County Sheriff ’s Office continues to invest in security to ensure compliance

Home to 30,000 residents, Bradford County is a rural community located 45 miles Southwest of Jacksonville, Fla. that is committed to keeping the county a safe place to live, work and play. The Bradford County Sheriff ’s Office is mandated to protect its citizens and at the same time, safeguard sensitive criminal justice information, such as fingerprints and backgrounds from unauthorized exposure. Leveraging innovative solutions to accomplish these goals, the sheriff ’s office replaced its key-based system with a more advanced access control solution more than 20 years ago. Over time, the county has expanded the Vanderbilt Security Management System (SMS) throughout its main buildings to ensure employee and public safety and privacy of information.

Keys to the Kingdom

Twenty years ago, the county replaced keys with the Vanderbilt SMS, known at the time as the Geoffrey Access Control system.

“With the key holder system, we had no real way of tracking who was accessing what and when,” said Christopher Hamer, network administrator at the Bradford Country Sheriff ’s Office. “The access control system provided a better way to control traffic on a need-toknow basis.”

When their existing access control system’s SQL server crashed after many years of use, the sheriff ’s office officials decided it was time to explore other options. Ultimately, they decided to stick with the SMS system and contacted Vanderbilt, who connected them with an SMS Certified Dealer, Cam Connections, a division of Protection 1. A nationwide provider of custom-tailored security and loss prevention solutions, Cam Connections’ mission is to provide unmatched service while delivering electronic security solutions that are expertly tailored to the specific needs of each individual client.

“Cam Connections fixed the problem in less than 24 hours,” Hamer said. “Vanderbilt and Cam Connections gave us excellent support and made us realize just how fortunate we are to have this system.”

According to Garret King, sales representative at Cam Connections, Bradford County is committed to the platform, in part, because of the team’s effort to continually reinvent it.

“Bradford County started out with the technology 20 years ago and keeps it cutting edge to meet current and future needs,” said King. “It’s amazing to look at where it started and where we are now.”

Card Readers and Access Control

To manage more than 250 active cardholders, 200 sporadic users and 900 daily transactions, the Bradford County Sheriff ’s Office has five Vanderbilt SMS clients running on a Windows 2008 virtual machine and installed 80 card readers to control access on both internal and external doors at the sheriff ’s office and Jail, Narcotics Task Force Office and courthouse. Cam Connections installed Allegion AD400 Series wireless lock sets to work in conjunction with the Vanderbilt reader controllers. The county also added a reader to the vehicle gate at the Narcotics Task Force Building for tighter access control. As the system administrator, Hamer can add new users and update data in real time and troubleshoot when necessary.

“I can also access the system remotely from home if there’s a failure, a last-minute change request or to initiate a selective lockdown. Dispatch staff at the sheriff ’s office and courthouse administration use the alarm-monitoring feature from the SMS platform. I can handle dynamic staff requirements and accommodate very liquid situations in real time,” said Hamer, who added that managing users and maintaining the cardholder database is also straightforward.

Hamer describes the solution as scalable and modular, offering the flexibility to add new features easily and quickly. For example, he is currently developing panic cards that will give specific users the ability initiate a lockdown in an emergency with a swipe of the card.

“Vanderbilt and Cam Connections have been true life savers, especially when we were at risk of going in too many directions,” Hamer said. “Together, they keep us on track.”

Security Precautions

The platform has helped the Bradford County Sheriff ’s Office meet Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy requirements, which specify what security precautions must be taken to protect sensitive information.

“By controlling access to certain areas, it helps us make sure that all staff information is 100 percent protected at all times,” Hamer said.

Privacy of information is critical across the organization, but particularly at the Narcotics Task Force Office where a great deal of information about active investigations is stored. In addition, the elimination of key holders has dramatically improved overall security.

“All access requests are documented and monitored and all areas that need to be protected have card readers,” Hamer said. Use of the Vanderbilt SMS has resulted in fewer breaches and better asset protection. For example, at the Narcotics Task Force Office, a lot of valuable equipment used in covert operations is stored and now protected. “Being able to document access to all areas is an amazing advancement over a key-based system.”

The Vanderbilt SMS also makes it easy for Hamer to add new users, change access rights and amend functions in less time, particularly important because there is a 10 percent user turnover each quarter. “Replacing our Vanderbilt SMS with a comparable solution would’ve required rewiring and rekeying all our doors at an exorbitant cost,” Hamer said. “Reinvesting and growing our Vanderbilt SMS was the smart choice.”

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Security Today.

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