Dallas Police officials reported that a massive amount of information was lost from its July 2020 criminal investigations computer database.
DALLAS – A massive amount of information on criminal cases dating back to July 2020 has been lost in the Dallas Police Department’s computer database, authorities revealed on Wednesday.
In a statement, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office said the loss occurred in early April as the Dallas Police Department performed a data migration from a computer network drive.
About 14 terabytes of the lost 22 terabytes have been recovered, but the remaining eight terabytes are said to be lost forever, the statement said, and are expected to be restored by further investigative work.
Most newer personal computers have hard drive memory capacities ranging from half a terabyte to two terabytes.
City information technology officials became aware of the problem on April 5. Police and the city’s computer services did not reveal it to the district attorney’s office until Friday, after prosecutors asked why they couldn’t find computer files on pending cases.
“My office is now working with the DPD to determine how many cases are affected by the city’s data loss in April. It is possible that much of the missing evidence had already been uploaded to this office’s data portal by April 5, which would have limited impact on cases, ”District Attorney John Creuzot said in a statement. . However, “at this point, it is too early to estimate how many cases will be affected and what the impact will be on those individual cases,” he said.
The lost data included images, videos, audio, case notes and other information gathered by police and detectives, according to a statement from the Dallas Police Department. A city IT worker was migrating files, which had not been viewed in the past six to 18 months, from a cloud-based online archive to a server in the city’s data center.
“During the data migration, the employee did not follow the proper and established procedures, which resulted in the deletion of the data files,” according to the police statement.
Prosecutors were tasked with verifying that all investigating detectives had shared evidence and case files with the state attorney’s office before deciding the case, Creuzot said. Prosecutors would then disclose in writing any missing records, as communicated by the police department.
The police statement said the city assured that new measures had been implemented to prevent a repeat of the data loss. Creuzot said he and Police Chief Eddie Garcia “have been in constant communication about this over the past few days and are determined to ensure that justice is served in every case.”
Dallas defense attorney Amanda Branan, president of the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, said she was grateful for the disclosure so defense attorneys could request trial postponements and other accommodations.
“It is concerning that it took four months for the Dallas Police Department to notify the district attorney of the loss of the data,” she said.
In its statement, the police department said it wanted to “fully assess whether the data was recoverable or not to know the full extent of the problem, if at all,” before making it public.
Branan also said she was concerned that evidence that could strengthen the defendant’s defenses has been lost. The police department therefore had to identify the cases affected by the loss of data so that investigators could retrace their steps and restore the lost evidence.