How Alameda County, CA, Connects Justice Partners with Odyssey

June 17, 2019 by Meredith Trimble

One Probation Department's Move to Improve Safety and Reduce Recidivism

How Alameda County, CA, Connects Justice Partners with Odyssey

The Alameda County Probation Department spans 13 cities and serves a population of 8,000 adult probation and 600 post-release supervision clients. To adeptly manage operations of this size, the county sought a way to reduce paper and manual processes, which proved inefficient and costly. In addition, the county wanted to increase collaboration between justice partners to better achieve common goals and improve safety.

A Green Screen Legacy

With legacy systems, staff managed all case information on paper, and at times had to query other county databases for information. These searches produced paper documents that had to be manually processed. Deputy Chief Probation Officer Marcus Dawal remembered the legacy case management system as an “old green screen; a mainframe system that was developed in the mid-1970s.”

“It didn't keep track of addresses,” Dawal noted. “We weren't able to input case notes. We weren't able to generate any reports.”

Actionable Insight

Embracing Tyler's Odyssey solution created efficiencies for probation officers with high caseloads. The Odyssey case management system, for example, put all case notes in one central database. This allows officers to see, at the click of a button, the details of cases with various outcomes.

When cases have issues, officers have visibility into clients’ activities and related staff notes. For cases of positive re-entry, staff can see what interventions worked. “It’s helped us have information at our fingertips that we did not have,” Dawal said. Instead of traveling to multiple offices to conduct hard file reviews, officers now have instant access to successful strategies that can better inform interactions with other clients for improved success.

Robert Ambroselli, Marcus Dawal, and Ian Long of Alameda County, CA, accept a 2019 Tyler Excellence Award for innovation

Creating Connections

A key benefit of the new case management solution is its seamless integration with other court and county systems in use. “We’re able to get the status of a docket if a person’s probation is active or revoked,” Dawal explained. “If they have a bench warrant, we’re able to get that information as it’s input by the clerk in real time. The ability for us to collaborate with the courts is really a game changer.”

This new level of collaboration also ensures that everyone is on the same page, from department heads to the chief to the court administrator. “We have a strong infrastructure within the county between public protection partners, which includes the court,” Dawal noted. “We’re all on the same page. We have the same goals to make sure that we can share the information that can be shared, and when we identify areas or gaps…we don’t shy away from having the conversations that need to take place.”

Centralizing efforts on one main system instead of multiple separate ones connected case management with the county’s risk and needs assessment, as well as its mobile app, a synergy that is key to up-leveling safety for officers and the public. “Our probation officers can get immediate updates on critical information that includes warrants, gang rivals or enemies via [the app] when they are in the field,” explained Dawal. “This officer safety information is critical to ensuring our staff is safe when conducting their work. Our law enforcement partners can receive any of our shared data that can assist with ongoing investigations and officer safety information.”

In the near future, the county’s app will allow probation offices to access case files and enter notes from the field. “By no means are we resting on our laurels after implementing a case management system,” Dawal said. “We’re going to move forward and keep doing more things…to be able to provide good supervision for our clients and, ultimately, reduce recidivism in Alameda County.”

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