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Sheriff cites security in denying remote work plan

Citing the need to maintain the security of the county’s law enforcement computer system, Taylor County Sheriff Larry Woebbeking won’t allow an existing city police employee to log in remotely from Puerto Rico.

Woebbeking announced his decision on Friday after consulting with representatives from Spillman Technologies.

Spillman Technologies, which is owned by Motorola, provides dispatch and records management software systems to more than 1,000 agencies nationwide. It is the primary software system for the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department.

The Medford Police Department, which leases office space in the courthouse with the sheriff’s department, uses the county’s computer system including the county’s Spillman accounts.

Last month the Medford city council approved a request from Medford Police Department Administrative Assistant Sarah Serrano to do a six-month trial of working remotely. Serrano wants to move to Puerto Rico and is looking to continue her job with the city.

While the police administration supports her working remotely and the city council signed onto the plan for at least a trial basis, concerns were raised on the county level about the impact this would potentially have on the security of the computer system.

Employees have worked remotely elsewhere on the county system. However, the major concern is with users accessing the system from outside the mainland United States. Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and unincorporated U.S. territory. The more than 3.2 million people who live there are U.S. citizens.

The county’s information technology department had reviewed the request and because of the unique nature of the Spillman system left it up to the sheriff to make the decision on if the access would be allowed.

On Friday, Woebbeking said he spoke with security experts from Spillman and was concerned about the potential risk of unauthorized access to the system and the impact it could have on sheriff’s department operations.