‘A huge disruption’: Expert explains impact of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office system outage

Jacksonville, Fl — UPDATE 9:10 a.m.- JSO release the following statement:

“Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Network Engineers continue assessing systems following the recent events.  Most importantly, police response times and service levels to the community have not been impacted. Again, JSO has not been the subject of a ransomware attack. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, out of an abundance of caution, proactively separated its servers from the city network. At this point, there have been zero indications of compromise to any of JSO’s systems.”


The City of Jacksonville said all systems are back up and running after a cyber-attack at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

“The situation is contained and all systems are functioning properly,” Brian Hughes, the city’s chief administrative officer, said. “In an abundance of caution, the City and JSO have taken precautionary measures to limit access while cyber security teams finish a deep dive throughout the system.”


Action News Jax reported Sunday that the FBI was assisting the city in its investigation. As of Monday, JSO’s ‘Calls for Service’ dashboard was still down.

Five independent sources confirmed to Action News Jax that the cyber-attack impacted the department’s computer-aided dispatch system, or ‘CAD’.

Read: Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office experiencing suspicious cyber activity, independent sources say

“That would be a huge disruption to the typical agency’s operations,” Brandon Abley, the director of technology for the 911 Association, said. “Radio systems have gotten quieter in the last few years because the dispatcher will activate units and send instructions over the CAD software.”

He explained the software helps dispatchers check the location of callers and officers in the field, send information, and get updates. The software is typically integrated into patrol cars as well. Abley said a disruption could slow down response times, which is why 911 centers are often the target of attacks.

“It’s not the same as my personal computer getting locked in with a hack. There are lives on the line here,” Abley said. “It is not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. You have to prepare for your systems to be compromised and how to recover from them.”

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Sources said the attack also impacted the system officers use to make arrest reports. As of Monday afternoon, JSO’s inmate log showed 17 people were booked in the Duval County Jail on Sunday during the time outage. That compares to 70 last Sunday.

“We noticed that there were quite a few less traffic citations written,” Action News Jax’s Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson said.

He works as a criminal defense lawyer and also served as an officer for years in Miami before the time of CAD.

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“In those years, there were clearly fewer arrests and one of the reasons for that was it took a long time to actually create the report,” he said. It’s why he believes there could have been fewer arrests over the weekend.

In a statement, a representative for the State Attorney’s Office said, “Our computer systems have not been affected by issues impacting other agencies — it remains business as usual, with only minor challenges using systems we jointly access with other parties...”

Action News Jax has reached out to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office several times over the weekend and Monday for comment and to learn what exactly was impacted by the hack. We have not yet heard back.

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