Court first appearances dramatically curtailed amid ongoing city computer issues

The Duval County courtroom where accused criminals make their first appearance before a judge experienced a major decline in appearances Monday morning after access to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office dispatch and jail booking systems was limited because of computer issues over the weekend.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County courtroom where accused criminals make their first appearance before a judge experienced a major decline in appearances Monday morning after access to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office dispatch and jail booking systems was limited because of computer issues over the weekend.

Sources told New4JAX that the precautionary measures implemented over the weekend have slowed the process of dispatching officers and filing arrest reports. Usually, the Duval County courtroom is filled with people, but footage from the courtroom Monday showed a decrease in the number of people arrested over the weekend appearing for court.

Judge Roberta Arias noted that the temporary change caused by cybersecurity issues had JSO struggling — even jokingly suggested an inmate appearing before him in the courtroom could lend a hand.

“What do you do,” Arias asked. “I’m in IT, information technology,” the inmate said.

“Well, the sheriff’s office needs your help,” Arias said.

The inmate then suggested JSO give him a call.

On Friday, the city “detected suspicious activity from an outside server thanks to cyber security detection software implemented within the last year,” Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said.

Access to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dispatch and jail booking systems are limited after computer issues happened over the weekend. The city says all systems are working after software caught an attempted intrusion Friday.

Hughes said all systems are now working after cyber security software flagged “suspicious activity.”

According to Hughes, the incident isn’t a result of a ransomware attack. Hughes also said JSO is taking precautionary measures to limit access while cyber security teams finish a deep dive throughout the system.

Hughes has not given many details beyond this statement:

“When City staff was alerted to a possible issue, they were able to quickly disable the account and implement precautionary measures,” Hughes said. “The situation is contained, and all systems are functioning properly. The City and JSO have taken precautionary measures to limit access while cyber security teams finish a deep dive throughout the system.”

The issues will not impact if residents need to call 911 and report a crime.

Cyber Security Expert Chris Hamer also told us it’s unclear to guess what happened to the system based on the information JSO has provided.

“The information they’ve given us so far is insufficient for us to draw an accurate conclusion as to what happened. Obviously, it’s an event. They say they have it contained, and that it is impacting certain systems, while not others. That’s not a very informative response. It’s a response and says nothing,” Hamer said.

Hamer also brokedown Hughes’ statement regarding the status of the incident.

“So, abundance of caution means we’re checking all of our eggs to see which ones are broken,” Hamer said.

He also said the city appears to be taking industry-standard steps to isolate and minimize any damage. Noting, the city’s response isn’t enough to determine what has actually happened.

The FBI said its cyber task force is working with the city to navigate the potentially suspicious activity in a statement Sunday.

“The FBI Jacksonville Cyber Task Force has been providing assistance to the City of Jacksonville related to potentially suspicious activity on its system, and our technically trained cyber experts will continue to share any new information available to assist them in making informed decisions.”


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