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How a Texas county’s sheriff’s office found operational success with GUARDIAN RFID

Smith County Sheriff’s Office passed its annual Texas State Jail Inspection for the first time since 2019 after partnering with GUARDIAN RFID

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Smith County selected GUARDIAN RFID to digitally transform its jail facility.

Photo/Smith County Sheriff’s Office via Facebook

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The mission of the Smith County Sheriff’s Office in Tyler, Texas, is to serve the citizens and visitors of Smith County by providing professional and ethical law enforcement detention and court security that protects and preserves the constitutional rights of the people and mandates the fair and impartial enforcement of the law.

Smith County Jail’s staff have continuously held true to this mission and have worked toward achieving 100% round compliance with the goal of passing the annual Texas State Jail Inspection. However, when it came to compliance inspection, the staff experienced extensive technical challenges and poor measurable outcomes with its previous guard tour system, Guard1 from Timekeeping Systems and its data-collecting accessory, known as the PIPE.

According to Smith County Jail Lieutenant, Lonnie Kettler, Guard1’s data collection and reporting were limited and unreliable, requiring the jail to maintain its paper logs and preventing them from achieving solid round compliance and passing the annual inspection.

Understanding the Technology Problem

Lt. Kettler was one of the many staff members that experienced incapabilities with the PIPE, as well as Guard1’s customer service. Upon being appointed to her position, Lt. Kettler contacted Guard1 and requested on-site training to become familiar with the system and its reporting potential. When Kettler suggested that the PIPEs were not working correctly, she was immediately denied on-site training. “It was then that we decided to seek an alternative tracking system and to find out that indeed the PIPEs were not working correctly,” said Lt. Kettler.

Following a number of complications including lacking reporting capabilities, downloading errors and poor customer service within the existing guard tour system, Smith County recognized the urgency to replace the PIPE with a stronger, more comprehensive technology platform. Plus, with an average daily population of 970 inmates and a maximum capacity of 1,149, Smith County Jail needed to modernize its inmate management objectives to achieve compliance and protect the agency’s civil liabilities.

After grasping the dissatisfaction and urgent need to upgrade its outdated infrastructure to a solution that better suits the needs of the front line, Smith County selected GUARDIAN RFID to digitally transform its jail facility.

Onboarding to a New System

From finalizing the contract in July 2022 and going live with the technology in November 2022, Smith County Jail completed implementation and go-live training of GUARDIAN RFID in 90 days, including Wi-Fi rollout and integration with its jail management system from Tyler Technologies.

Using GUARDIAN RFID’s hardened RFID tags, RFID Wristbands and ultra-rugged Android devices called SPARTAN to manage, monitor and track inmates, jail staff immediately gained real-time security round performance and captured inmate movement activities as required by Texas Jail Standards. Smith County Jail achieved 100% round compliance with GUARDIAN RFID’s visual analytics platform, Operational Intelligence, within the first 30 days of Go-Live and passed its annual Texas State Jail Inspection for the first time since 2019.

These massive accomplishments demonstrate how Smith County’s staff held true to its mission of sticking to its core values and created stronger transparency and agency accountability at the point of responsibility.

Supporting Ongoing Compliance and Transparency

The GUARDIAN RFID system enabled Smith County Jail staff to capture data faster, more reliably and more comprehensively than ever, including inmate activities, behavioral observations, inmate movements, court transports and positive ID headcounts. Inmate meal offerings, program attendance and medication administration records also help reduce inmate complaints and future litigation while continuously increasing compliance efficiency with Texas jail standards.

The agency’s success can be attributed to combining advanced technology with professional leadership that proactively approaches its day-to-day operations.

“Having the ability to document with a time stamp is a hugely valuable part of the GUARDIAN RFID technology,” said Lt. Kettler. GUARDIAN RFID’s native Cloud platform includes specially designed reports to help Texas jails prepare for their inspections with greater accuracy and efficiency, including the ability to visualize headcounts in real-time.

Smith County plans to continuously increase its efficiency surrounding streamlined compliance rates with state and team standards by utilizing GUARDIAN RFID’s Operational Intelligence (OI) platform. Supporting the facility’s overall digital transformation, OI is a data-collecting machine that has the ability to interface directly with the county’s pre-existing jail management system, Tyler Tech Odyssey.

“GUARDIAN RFID has helped us to create stronger transparency and agency accountability,” explained Lt. Kettler. “By implementing the tools that the corrections industry’s most widely deployed mobile inmate tracking technology offers, we have gained real-time performance analysis on every level of our inmate management objectives.”