Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman answers a question from Judge Jack Skeen during a pretrial hearing for Gustavo Zavala-Garcia on Thursday March 7, 2019. Zavala-Garcia was indicted in 2017 and faces a capital murder charge. (Sarah A. Miller/Tyler Morning Telegraph)

A new technology coming to Smith County could make it easier for prosecutors and law enforcement officers to manage their criminal cases.

The Smith County Commissioners Court voted 4-0 on Tuesday to buy a product called TechShare.Prosecutor to serve the Smith County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors and officers alike would use the software for electronic case filing, task management, logging discovery documents, and monitoring plea deals, among other things.

Don Bell, the county’s IT director, said the software would replace a laborious process in which prosecutors and officers have to burn DVDs of evidence such as body camera footage.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to eliminate all the DVD burners that we’ve got in the county,” Bell said. “Just to understand the issue here is we have well over 30 DVD burners (to serve) each attorney. The sheriff’s office also, they have the same problem.”

District Attorney Jacob Putman said the software would save his office money, too. He said evidence currently is shared among people involved in a case by manually saving the information on hard drives and flash drives.

“Our office is spending anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 a month just buying hard drives and flash drives to make copies,” Putman said. “Not only is it an expensive problem now, but it’s a problem that’s going to continue to increase going forward.

“Rather than continue to invest or spend money on more and more portable hard drives, we have looked at what most other counties are going to, which is basically a secure cloud solution,” Putman said.

TechShare.Prosecutor was created when four members of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties—Dallas, Midland, Tarrant and Travis—joined together in 2012. Today, 19 counties large and small are using the software. Smith County will be No. 20.

The contract will cost Smith County about $42,000 per year, plus a one-time implementation fee of about $34,000.

TWITTER and INSTAGRAM: @_erinmansfield

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